Federal tax credit to help SAR volunteers

Tax credits for search and rescue volunteers and the renewal of the recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program are two items Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP lauded Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the Conservative government for following the 2014 budget speech.

"One thing that I am pleased to see is the tax credit for volunteers in search and rescue," Crowder said shortly after the speech was tabled Tuesday afternoon.

"Clearly we rely heavily on volunteer search and rescue and it is something we have raised with the minister in the past. I am pleased to see that and welcome that announcement." The credit will be for volunteers who have at least 200 hours of service.

As for the recreational fisheries program renewal, Crowder said it’s important to her because it’s important to her constituents here in Nanaimo-Cowichan.

"I’m hopeful that that one will have some results for us," she said.

In his speech, Flaherty promised fiscal responsibility and common sense when delivering his annual budget speech in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Tuesday afternoon.

"This prudent plan builds on our record of strong, sound and consistent fiscal management. It is a low-tax plan to promote jobs and economic growth and support Canadian families," he said. "And it is a common sense plan that will see Canada return to a balanced budget in 2015."

North Cowichan councillor John Koury, who is also the president of the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Conservatives, liked what he saw out of Flaherty’s 2014 budget offering.

"The federal budget is good for this region. It stays the course to eliminate the deficit while keeping taxes low and maintaining transfers to the provinces," Koury said.

"The government has delivered a realistic budget that reflects the needs and priorities of all Canadians."

In addition to a "stable long-term commitment to fund scientific research in Canadian universities," Koury welcomed the focus on skills training in trades and job creation opportunities for youth and older workers who are entering a new career and for the attention given to First Nations.

"It supports important reforms to First Nations on-reserve education systems, which I hope will benefit First Nations on the Island," he said.

But Crowder noted some of those First Nations programs may have to wait until next year to see funding.

"You make all these announcements and people have an expectation that money’s going to flow, but they don’t read the fine print," she said.

The emergency mitigation funding and many of the First Nations promises were in that grouping.

"They have a National Disaster Mitigation Program which proposes $200 million over five years but it doesn’t start until 2015/16 so that’ll again be after the election," Crowder said. "The on-reserve emergency management program is the same thing. These are important programs and we would have liked to have seen them kick in earlier."