If you’re a volunteer Firefighter, Search & Rescue volunteer, or Royal Canadian Marine volunteer team member, a proposed tax credit may allow you to walk away with some extra cash.
Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto says before it can be passed, balanced budget needs to be approved first.
She says there will be a few steps once it’s introduced and debated on February 22.
“There will be a June sitting, sure, regardless of outcome of the election, and the governing party will certainly look at this tax credit. You know, it’s a widely supported idea. There are search and rescue volunteers throughout the province as well as a number of amazing volunteer firefighters that keep people safe.”
If passed, volunteers would be eligible for a $3000 non-refundable tax credit.
“So what that means is… this tax credit mirrors the Federal tax credit that search and rescue members are already are eligible for, if they provide at least 200 hours of volunteer service.”
Yamamoto says volunteers would be able to take home about $600.
Meanwhile North Shore Rescue Search Manager Doug Pope says they were surprised to hear about the proposed tax credit.
He says they’re thankful for the recognition of the several hundred hours that volunteers work in the back country.
But he adds, it’s not quite what NSR has been asking for.
“Focusing our discussions on with the Province is a sustainable funding model for Search and Rescue in the province, and our idea of that is that our significant yearly operating costs, that we would get a contribution from the province directly.”
Pope says they need about $500,000 a year to pay for ongoing expenses including training, equipment and maintenance.
He says right now they’re funded by three local North Shore municipalities, a provincial grant, fundraising and donations – but that only makes up just over half of what they need.
Pope says each member still spends thousands of their own dollars on equipment to keep it ready for their calls.
“Most teams provide some basic safety equipment to their members, and that comes from funds they have to raise themselves through donations etcetera, but then each member’s expected to bring a lot of their basic outdoor gear to the team and calls.”
He adds that doesn’t include training or fuel costs.