April 20, 2011 – The Newfoundland and Labrador government introduced two measures in Tuesday’s provincial budget for firefighters – a $3,000 provincial tax credit for volunteers and $3.9 million for up to 22 new fire trucks and firefighting vehicles, an increase of $2.5 million over 2010.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services (NLAFS) had asked for the tax credit and the increased funding for fire vehicles in a meeting with the social policy committee of cabinet in February.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the second province to introduce a tax credit for its volunteer firefighters, after Nova Scotia. P.E.I. had promised to implement a tax credit for volunteer firefighters but the measure did not make it into last week’s provincial budget.
The Newfoundland and Labrador tax credit mirrors a proposed federal tax credit outlined in the Harper government’s budget in March. The federal proposal collapsed when the government fell last month but fire-service leaders are hopeful that it will be resurrected no matter which party wins the May 2 election.
NLAFS president and Grand Falls-Windsor fire chief Vince MacKenzie said the provincial tax credit will provide about $231 for volunteer firefighters. Firefighters who serve a minimum of 200 hours responding to calls and attending training or meetings will be eligible for the non-refundable tax credit. The measure will cost the government about $1.4 million, according to the budget documents.
"This is a good day to be a volunteer firefighter in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador," MacKenzie said. "Government responded to the requests of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services, and also recognized the tremendous dedication and service of the men and women who make up the province's volunteer firefighting community."
The budget also included $1 million for fire departments to buy personal protective equipment and to upgrade SCBA.
Last week, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced an additional $1.56 million for fire departments in Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook to modernize apparatuses.
There are about 5,900 volunteer firefighters in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province said Tuesday that the funding for new fire trucks plus the $1 million for PPE brings its investment in fire protection services in 2011 to a high of $4.9 million. The $1.4 million for the volunteer firefighter tax credit is on top of the $4.9 million.