The provincial government has signed a deal with the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) following more than a decade without one.

The volunteer group has more than 100 members and nine aircraft in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"With this agreement, now we can be tasked by the local police forces in Newfoundland and Labrador, so we can assist with provincial searches. If we have a missing hunter or missing person … we have a team ready, willing and able," said Brian Bishop, provincial president of CASARA.

The government was criticized for not having an agreement in place when Burton Winters went missing. Without a deal, CASARA volunteers couldn't formally assist in the search for the Makkovik teenager.

But Justice Minister Darin King says the new deal isn't a result of the controversy surrounding Winters' death.

"You know, anytime you can improve search and rescue services in the province, that would have been the motivation for me. The other issues that may have occurred in the province would have been side issues, and no doubt would have spurred things on, but no one incident really forced this forward," said King.

The new deal covers workers compensation, lost income and other expenses incurred by CASARA volunteers during searches.