December 18th, 2023
B.C. member of Parliament Gord Johns has been working with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs to try to boost the credit for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers to $10,000.
A petition to the House of Commons got more than 16,000 signatures in support of the increase, and Johns’ bill to make the change passed its first reading in the house this month.
Johns said emergency services volunteers deserve a break from inflation and rising living costs.
“They’re taking on more paid work to keep up with rising costs and they just can’t keep volunteering at this scale,” he said.
“We rely on them. They save taxpayers money. Retaining volunteer firefighters is a huge challenge with the increase in inflation and there’s been a huge decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters in the country.”
He said there are 20 volunteer fire departments and search and rescue teams in his own riding of Courtenay-Alberni on Vancouver Island, and raising the tax credit would be “low-hanging fruit” at little cost to public coffers.
“It’s certainly going to let them know that Canadians actually care and value them and that they’re appreciated because they’re saving all local governments across the country money and provincial governments money,” he said.
“Government needs to seize this moment. It’s actually a very inexpensive way to support recruitment and show value to those firefighters and search and rescue personnel, and they deserve it. They’re putting their lives on the line for us.”