B.C. government offers 'token' tax credit for search and rescue, fire volunteers
Provincial credit will translate into a benefit of up to $151 each year
The province has announced a new tax credit for the more than 7,000 volunteers who save lives across British Columbia.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Naomi Yamamoto says the credit will reduce the taxable income for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue crews by $3,000.
The credit will translate into a benefit of up to $151 each year, which combined with an existing federal tax credit, could amount to about $600 for volunteers.
"It's really a small token for a huge commitment and a thank you for search and rescue members," she said at a news conference on Saturday about the tax credit, which only applies to volunteers who give 200 hours of service during the year.
Yamamoto says the credit is a token of appreciation to the many volunteers who give up their time to save others.
Won't cover price of boots
Volunteers who work in the field are paid nothing and an extra $150 won't even cover a good pair of boots.
"All that gear does add up to quite a bit of expense, probably several thousand a year," said Doug Pope with North Shore Rescue, which needs two new snowmobiles worth around $10,000 each.
Still Pope and others say the credit will make a difference.
"Hundreds of our marine rescue volunteers will benefit from the new tax measure." said Pat Quealey with Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue.
Its volunteers operate 35 stations on the West Coast and in the Interior and are called out to an average of 800 missions a year.
The BC govt is providing volunteer firefighters and S&R members a tax benefit of $151 a year. 4 MLA's at announcement <a href="https://t.co/t54cfO3MqS">pic.twitter.com/t54cfO3MqS</a>—@CBCDeborahGoble
"This is a tangible recognition of the time, skill, and courage of all British Columbia's search and rescue volunteers, including our marine rescue crews who contribute so much to safety on the water."
Last year, the province did make a one-time, $10 million funding announcement for search and rescue groups last year.
The B.C. Search and Rescue Association's Colin Wiebe says while the new tax credit is welcome, he would like the province to make good on a funding proposal that would almost double the yearly funding of $9 million groups get now.
with files from Canadian Press