Search and Rescue – SAR Funding – GoC News Release –
Funding Search-and-Rescue Prevention & Response: Lumping
rather than splitting ... but still no
sign of movement on FWSAR
Government News Releases can be mind-numbing for an average citizen to read, replete as they often are with
bureaucratic language and ministerial self- congratulation. This SAR funding press release is no exception.
With all the capacities built and responses strengthened, the absense of content may escape a casual reader.
We are told that $8.1M is to be spent on various and sundry projects under the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund
of the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS). But SAR NIF is hardly new. SAR NIF has been
running since 1988 and awards funds to SAR-related projects annually. SAR NIF's
backgrounder tells us that "projects must address at least one of the five National SAR Priorities". These
SAR Priorities differ very slightly from the National Search and Rescue Program (NSP) Strategic Directions.
Common to both is Arctic SAR.  Not surprising considering that the Government of Canada has signed the
binding Arctic Search and Rescue Treaty. Rather than sporting
with our intelligence with contentless News Releases, it'd be nice if Government would simply tell us what their plan
is to satisfy its newly-formalized Arctic SAR obligations. The take-home may be that both GoC and
NSS are simply going to wait until a funding application from a local group, academic, or industrial partner solves
their self-inflicted Arctic SAR conundrum for them. With the GoC's track record, that may be just as well.
Regardless of what the GoC was actually trying to tell us, press releases aren't without purpose. Timing is also
critical, so any news released on Sunday raises an eyebrow. Is $8.1M of funding for SAR so insignificant? Or is
the MND trying to draw our attention away from a procurement 'elephant in the room' the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Project which has been fumbled several
times on its way through Cabinet.
Alternatively, the MND may be relishing a pending announcement that he has shoved the FWSAR Project
through Cabinet somehow. That seems unlikely though, so soon after the recent climb-down over F-35
sole-sourcing. Once FWSAR is passed Cabinet, taxpayers must hope that sober thought has triumphed over
will. The FWSAR Project was expanded to include submissions from alternate service providers (although DND and the MND can hardly be happy about this). And there's
room for further expansion of FWSAR (where the dedicated FWSAR
aircraft could be military or civilian-manned).
Of course, Peter MacKay may attempt to safeguard his bureaucratic bailiwicks. If that is his course, the MND will
lash himself to the RCAF's preferred 'candidate', the Alenia C-27J Spartan. Although that makes little sense on the surface, MacKay might have a
powerful ally. According to AgustaWestland rep, Jeremy Tracy, the official resistance to basing SAR aircraft in the
Arctic originates with the Prime Minister. If true, Stephen Harper will back his MND on buying Italian. If untrue, perhaps the PMO is the guiding
hand steering FWSAR away from 'sole-sourcing' towards considering bolder options.
 National SAR Priorities are listed as: support the organization and sustainability of GSAR (or Ground
Search-and-Rescue); protect and support volunteers; deliver public education; promote interoperability through common
platforms [ primarily referring to radios] and protocols; and, build Local SAR Capacity in the North and Remote
 "Build Local SAR Capacity in the North and Remote Areas" in the case of National SAR Priorities;
"Focusing on Northern and Remote SAR" being Strategic Direction #5.
Government Announces Funding For SAR Prevention And Response
[ Note: this press release was published simultaneously on the DND website.]
April 15, 2012
Halifax – 15 April 2012 - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Lead Minister
for Search and Rescue, is pleased to announce an $8.1M federal investment in search and
rescue prevention and response in Canada.
"Our government understands the importance of investing in new initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency and
effectiveness of search and rescue in Canada," said Minister MacKay. "This money will support
projects that build search and rescue capacity and strengthens the response of search and rescue."
In 2012-2013, this new funding will allow for the purchase of life-saving equipment and tools; the development of
training standards; collaborative interoperability exercises between the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Coast Guard,
Parks Canada, and the over 15,000 specially trained air-ground-marine search and rescue volunteers;
the develop- ment of outreach prevention and awareness programs to targeted audiences like flight safety for
private pilots; the building of search and rescue capacity in the marine envi- ronment on the coasts; and the
development of virtual trainers for the air and marine search and rescue environments.
"Projects funded under the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund support the prior- ities of the National
Search and Rescue Program" said Ms. Géraldine Underdown, the Executive Director of the [NSS].
"They contribute to building capacity for the National Search and Rescue Program in such areas as search and rescue
prevention, response, technology, sustainability, interoperability and the North."
Established in 1986, the National Search and Rescue Secretariat ( NSS ) is responsible for the
management and coordination of the National Search and Rescue Program, and works with all levels of
government, police and emergency services to manage and improve search and rescue activities
throughout Canada. The NSS is an autonomous arm's length organization within the Department of
National Defence, accountable to the Lead Minister for Search and Rescue, who is also
Minister of National Defence.