Madam Speaker, I too compliment the hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk on this initiative. There is nothing greater than a good volunteer fire department in the community. We all hope that we never need it, but that when it is needed it is there.
When I was first elected to a municipal council in my home township, I was appointed chairman of the local fire committee and public works committee. We started a very good fire department made up of a group of people who wanted to work for their community, who had been doing some work in it but had no equipment with which to work. We ended up giving them some equipment.
Over the years, they like those in many other rural communities have built up their resources and firefighting equipment. They have taken special courses, visited schools to talk about fires and how to prevent them, and have gone into homes to make inspections.
As the hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk knows, these are not just everyday citizens out there fighting fires. They are indeed professionals in their own way. They deserve our credit. They deserve to have the volunteer firefighter's tax exemption as recommended by the hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk.
The hon. member for Restigouche-Chaleur mentioned the jaws of life. What could be more important in today's robust and rapidly moving world with the highway traffic and railway traffic, particularly if it runs through the middle of a built up community, than to have the jaws of life on those highways and roads in order to save people's lives. Our firefighters are very, very well trained to operate the jaws of life.
They carry out all these dedicated tasks together in their home community, but it goes far beyond that because they work with fire departments in neighbouring communities. Within a matter of a very short time a number of these departments can come together to fight a large regional fire.
I believe that rural Canada, our small villages and towns, are very well served by volunteer firefighters. I think they deserve the attention of this House. They deserve the consideration of this House for a greater tax exemption. It costs them a lot of money for clothing that is ruined and that does not come cheaply.
We are not asking much for them. The hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk probably knows many of these people. It is nothing for them to have to buy new clothing after a fire. They have to buy protective clothing as well which costs a lot of money.
Fire departments do raise money on their own. It is a co-operative thing for them to do. There is a good rapport among those firefighters and their families. They do fundraising and it is up to our communities to support them because they are there to support us in time of need.
It is very important too that all Canadians, including volunteers, realize that if it were not for volunteers in every walk and every area of life such as recreation and firefighting, there would be many qualities of life that we would not have in rural Canada today and indeed in larger communities as well.
Let us not just talk here in terms of rhetoric in the House of Commons about giving a tax deduction to volunteer firefighters. I think we should mean business on this because these people are a very important part of every small community in this country.
If we did not have volunteer firefighters to support and to look after people at times of grass fires, bush fires, brush fires, house fires, barn fires and road accidents, as has been mentioned it would cost this nation and individual taxpayers a lot more money than it is costing today under our volunteer firefighters program.
Let us give these people every good turn that we can and say thank you to them by giving them a tax exemption.
Once more I compliment the hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk and other members in the House who have spoken today on behalf of the volunteer firefighters across Canada.