Defence Minister Peter MacKay says both the federal and provincial government must work together to improve search and rescue in Newfoundland and Labrador.

MacKay met with Kevin O'Brien, the province's minister responsible for fire and emergency services, in St. John's early Monday morning before making a funding announcement.


Kevin O'Brien, N.L.'s minister responsible for fire and emergency services, says he wants a timeline on federal actions on search and rescue. (CBC)

The province requested the meeting after last week's scathing auditor general's report which cited serious problems with the Canadian military's search and rescue system.

"If we're all skating on the same ice, in the same direction, pulling on the same oar, working together, we're going to improve search and rescue," said MacKay. "The response times, the ability to save lives, is what is at stake."

O'Brien said he wanted to know by next week whether the federal government would follow through on each of the recommendations in last week's auditor general's report. 

"You're never satisfied until you see action," said O'Brien. "And I'll be only satisfied when I see the action and the timelines surrounding that action plan."

Inquiry still sought

In the provincial legislature on Monday afternoon, the Liberal Opposition again called for an inquiry into search and rescue.

But MacKay said earlier that he favoured having all parties work on the review of search and rescue services that Ottawa plans to hold every four years.

"We'll co-operate in ways that are going to enhance search and rescue," said MacKay. "And look, this is not a time for recriminations and finger-pointing, this is about working as a team."

MacKay also announced $1 million for volunteer search teams to upgrade communications equipment, and for training.

However, O'Brien made it clear that the province plans to keep the pressure on until officials are satisfied that Ottawa is making meaningful improvements to search and rescue.