Should B.C. search-and-rescue crews be paid?

Calls for search & rescue members to be paid
WATCH: Search and rescue volunteers not only risk their lives, on their own time - but they also rely on fundraisers to keep themselves afloat. But as Catherine Urquhart reports, some feel it's high time the crews were paid.

When the Lin family was brought to safety by North Shore Rescue on Monday, they promised to make a donation to the volunteer organization.

But donations aren’t enough to support B.C.’s 80 search-and-rescue groups. Neither is government funding — $9 million this year along with a $10-million one-time grant.

Following another busy year for search-and-rescue crews, there are renewed calls to move from a volunteer model to one where crew members are paid.

“We’re pretty busy right now,” Mike Danks of North Shore Rescue said. “There are a lot of other teams that are busy as well. The volunteer model moving forward, it becomes really challenging when you do have a lot of calls.

“It has a big impact on our members, not so much the guys who are out in the field…It’s your families, the people at home, the people that depend on you having an income. If we are going to have an ever-increasing call volume then I think something needs to change.”

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Moving away from a volunteer service could help cut down on fundraising efforts, which can be time-consuming.

“I think North Shore Rescue and other rescue teams are the most efficient way to conduct on-land rescues that are outside of municipalities and therefore all three levels of government need to get involved to help them out,” former Conservative MP Andrew Saxton said.

Naomi Yamamoto, B.C.’s minister of state for emergency preparedness, told Global News:

“The province has received a proposal for a new support model from the BC Search and Rescue Association.

“Emergency Management BC is now consulting with other sectors of our government…to determine the best option.”

– With files from Catherine Urquhart