April 4, 2011, Toronto – Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals have made two key promises in the federal election campaign that target first responders: a benefit of $300,000 for the families of fallen firefighters; and a refundable tax credit.
The platform, unveiled Sunday during a campaign stop in Nova Scotia and available on the Liberal Party of Canada website, includes a two-page section on police, firefighters and other first responders.
The community heroes fund, it says, will recognize the sacrifice of first responders who are killed on the job.
"Representatives of police and firefighters have long called for a national fund to recognize the service and sacrifice of officers killed in the line of duty," the platform says.
“A Liberal government will establish a Community Heroes Fund that will pay a benefit of $300,000 to the families of fallen officers, not only helping to secure their financial future, but also demonstrating respect and gratitude of their communities and their country.”
The platform does not explain whether firefighters who die from work-related cancers would be eligible for the benefit, or whether it would apply to volunteer and career firefighters. Liberal spokespeople could not immediately be reached Monday to explain details of the platform.
That promise comes a little more than two weeks after two volunteer firefighters were killed in Listowel, Ont., when the roof of a dollar store collapsed as they were searching for shoppers who may have been trapped.
Ignatieff had promised last May a refundable, $3,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters who served a minimum of 200 hours a year, months before the Harper Conservatives included a similar measure in its March budget.
“This annual volunteer service would include time devoted to achieving and maintaining firefighter training in accordance with recognized standards,” the Liberal promise said. “The tax credit would be made available to everyone who qualifies, regardless of income.”
Sunday’s 94-page platform did not explain the proposed tax credit or say whether it mirrors the promise outlined in May.
The proposed Conservative tax credit, which fell when the government was defeated in a confidence vote on March 25, was similar and would have meant a benefit of about $450 for many of Canada’s 84,000 volunteer firefighters.