Labrador search review complete this week, MacKay says

Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he should have answers within days to ongoing questions about the search and rescue effort for a 14-year-old Makkovik boy.

Defence minister expects to have answers within days on rescue efforts for Makkovik boy

Defence Minister Peter MacKay expects answers within days in relation to the search and rescue response for a 14-year-old Labrador boy, Burton Winters.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he should have answers within days to ongoing questions about the search and rescue effort for a 14-year-old Labrador boy.

"With respect to when we'll have more answers, I've asked the chief of defence staff, and I met with him this morning, to have a full investigation into all the circumstances around this tragic death, and we should have answers this week," MacKay told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

"Our condolences go out to his family, his friends, certainly his entire community."

Burton Winters, shown in a photo posted to a Facebook tribute page, died this week off the coast of Labrador. (CBC)

The death of Burton Winters has sparked debate about the Canadian Forces search and rescue response. The body of the Makkovik boy was found on ocean ice 12 kilometres from his abandoned snowmobile, three days after he was reported missing.

Search and rescue helicopters did not arrive until almost 48 hours after Winters went missing. In a statement issued this weekend, his family slammed the military response.

"Our family is now, and forever will be, incomplete because of someone else’s failure to do their job," Rod and Natalie Jacque, his dad and stepmom, said in a prepared statement.

"Our son, Burton, will never come home to us. His determination to get home outshined any efforts put forward by the DND. We cannot stand for this lack of service to continue in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Last week, the Department of National Defence blamed weather conditions for the delay.

Rear Admiral Dave Gardam said the weather was too poor last Monday morning, when a call for help was first received by the military, for any aircraft to be dispatched.

"Given the weather conditions, which were below limits for safe operations of an aircraft, our aircraft were not able to operate in that environment," Gardam told reporters in Halifax, as the Canadian Forces responded to questions about whether the military could have done more to have found the boy.

Gardam noted the civilian helicopters were taking part in the search.

"Under this type of search and rescue, we are called to provide services if civillian aircraft cannot be used," he said. "Civillian aircraft were capable of being used and flying to search during the day when the weather improved."

'More questions than answers'

But New Democrat MP Jack Harris was not satisfied by those initial explanations.

"On Friday, the Department of National Defence’s press conference left us with more questions than answers on a serious matter of life and death," Harris said.

"The family, the community and Canadians want to know what happened and we all want action to avoid another tragedy like this."

Harris is also calling for a review of Canada’s search and rescue response times.