HARRIS CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO CANADA’S SEARCH AND RESCUE SYSTEM
OTTAWA – Today in the House of Commons, New Democrat M.P. Jack Harris (St. John’s East) called on the Conservative government to align Canada’s search and rescue (SAR) response times to international standards to ensure the safety of all Canadians. The first hour of debate on M-314, Harris’ Private Member’s motion, took place in the House of Commons today.
The Motion would require the Government to acknowledge that Canada’s SAR response times are well behind international standards and to take the necessary steps to achieve the common international readiness standard of 30 minutes at all times.
“The reality is that response time is a primary determinant of successful search and rescue operations,” said Harris. “Many thousands of Canadians rely on the country’s oceans and waterways for their livelihood and their safety should be our primary concern.”
Currently the Canadian Forces are required to be airborne within 30 minutes of SAR taskings between the hours of 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. At all other times, the response standard is to become airborne within two hours of being dispatched for an emergency. This double standard is unacceptable and must be addressed.
“The reality is the vast majority, over 80%, of emergencies occur outside this 8-4 timeframe. Canada’s search and rescue technicians are the best in the world,” said Harris. “They constantly risk their lives for the safety of others; we need to ensure they have the proper resources and systems in place to save lives in emergencies, especially those at sea.”
Harris has been raising concerns about Canada’s unacceptable SAR response time for the past several years. The NDP’s commitment to improving the search and rescue response time was also included in the party’s 2011 election platform. The second hour of debate is tentatively scheduled for June 8, 2012.
M-314 — February 9, 2012 — Mr. Harris (St. John's East) — That the House acknowledge that Canada lags behind international search and rescue norms and urge the government to recognize the responsibility of the Canadian Forces for the protection of Canadians, and to take such measures as may be required for Canada to achieve the common international readiness standard of 30 minutes at all times, from tasking to becoming airborne, in response to search and rescue incidents.