The federal government honoured late North Shore Rescue leader Tim Jones in its budget on Tuesday by introducing a new tax credit for search and rescue volunteers across the country.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty mentioned Jones by name while introducing the credit, which is expected to save volunteers $450 a year.
“Our government respects the brave men and women who put their lives at risk, like Tim Jones of British Columbia, who died on Jan. 19 this year after 26 years with the North Shore Rescue Team,” he said.
“Economic Action Plan 2014 introduces the search and rescue volunteers tax credit. Eligible ground, air and marine search and rescue workers will be able to claim a 15 per cent tax credit. They must perform 200 or more hours of volunteer search and rescue service to qualify.”
The credit only applies to an amount of $3,000 annually. It will reduce federal revenues by an estimated $1 million this year and by $4 million in each of the next two years.
Flaherty thanked Conservative Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer for bringing the idea forward.
Jones, who led the country’s busiest search and rescue team until the day he died, was a vocal advocate for more public funding for Canada’s complex patchwork of rescue teams. He died of a heart attack while walking down Mount Seymour after an avalanche training session.
North Shore Rescue spokesman Doug Pope told Metro that the news from Ottawa caught him and his colleagues off guard.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the budget speech today,” he said.
“…It doesn’t pay the search and rescue infrastructure costs that Tim was advocating for, but we see it as a positive first step. The average volunteer obviously doesn’t get paid for their work on an hourly basis and also has incidental expenses of equipment and travel and transportation for training, so this would go towards offsetting that.”
The tax credit is applicable beginning with the last fiscal year.