House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-30.


7:10 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the issue raised by my persistent colleague, the member of Parliament for Random—Burin—St. George's, regarding the consolidation of the rescue sub-centres in St. John's and Quebec City with the joint rescue coordination centres in Halifax and Trenton. As she said and knows very well, both the minister and I have responded to this many times.

We want to remind the member that Canada remains steadfast in its dedication to the safety of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We are a national and international leader in marine safety and the Canadian Coast Guard's search and rescue program is among the best in the world, and we are proud of it. We are delivering on the Canadian Coast Guard's mandate by ensuring that the safety and security of all Canadians is maintained unaltered throughout these challenging economic times.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is providing a system that coordinates timely search and rescue response. We frequently review this system to identify lessons learned for the future. This enables us to continually improve upon this valuable service that we provide to Canadians and to international mariners in Canadian waters. The co-location of both air and maritime personnel in the same centre will facilitate the coordination of responses to maritime search and rescue incidents.

The decision to consolidate the two maritime rescue sub-centres into joint rescue coordination centres located in Halifax and Trenton resulted from the Government of Canada's strategic review exercise. This exercise provided us with the opportunity to deliver our services to Canadians in a more efficient and effective way. The decision was closely reviewed, and it was determined that search and rescue coordination services could be delivered in a more efficient and effective manner with no impact, and that I stress, on service delivery or safety.

I can assure the House that we are taking the implementation of this decision very seriously. Since the government's announcement, a project team and governance committee, composed of members the Canadian Coast Guard and Department of National Defence, have been set up to address a whole array of operational, human resource, infrastructure and technology requirements. Each of these requirements has been addressed in our implementation plan, which lays the groundwork for a successful transition.

As I have previously said, the decision to consolidate the rescue sub-centres will have no effect on the placement of air and maritime response assets. The locations of Canadian Coast Guard vessels are strategically selected to optimize search and rescue responses, and we will continue to evaluate our response coverage and ensure that the necessary knowledge and expertise is preserved. Our maritime search and rescue coordinators are highly trained professionals and any new coordinators will go through extensive formal and on-the-job training, as is the current practice.

As we have always said, the completion of maritime rescue sub-centre consolidation will be determined based on the maintenance of public safety. By working with our primary search and rescue partner, the Department of National Defence, we will ensure that all calls for maritime search and rescue assistance will be answered, that all existing search and rescue service standards will be maintained, that maritime expertise and necessary knowledge will be preserved and that services will be available in both official languages. The excellent service standard of maritime search and rescue that Canadians have come to expect, and indeed depend on, from their government will continue.

7:15 p.m.


Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, there is no question at all about the people who work in search and rescue and at the Canadian Coast Guard. With the resources they have available to them, they do their very best. The problem is that the government is not recognizing that they do not have enough resources. We have already seen documentary after documentary showing that our response time in terms of search and rescue is not good, that we need more support. These people who work so hard need more support.

When my hon. colleague talks about ensuring that we have qualified personnel, I would respond that what is happening now is that because employees are not moving from St. John's to Halifax, the officials are having to find other employees to hire at the joint rescue centre in Halifax and have downgraded their qualifications. Therefore, the search and rescue coordinators who will actually be hired for Halifax will not be as qualified because officials cannot find people with the necessary qualifications.

I ask the member how can he say that he is living up to the standards that we need and expect in terms of search and rescue?

7:15 p.m.


Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's response raises some questions of my own.

I would like to know if she agrees that a responsible government should conduct a strategic review from time to time to see if every dollar is being spent in the most effective and efficient way. I think she would agree. When that review is conducted, officials are asked to look at whether the services are being delivered in the best way. If they say they think things could be changed by consolidating the centres to get better coordination, efficiency and effectiveness and to have all the assets in place just as before, would she not agree with me that it would be irresponsible of the Government of Canada to say no, it is not going to take that advice? We have taken the advice and we are confident that we are going to continue to deliver the services in an excellent way.

7:20 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Avalon is not present to raise the matter for which adjournment notice had been given. Accordingly, the notice is deemed withdrawn.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:20 p.m.)