By David Rossiter
Nov. 29, 2010, Charlottetown - The Prince Edward Island government is the first provincial government in Canada to call on Ottawa to provide income tax relief for volunteer firefighters.
By David Rossiter
On Nov. 18, Justice and Public Safety Minister Doug Currie moved a resolution calling on the federal government to implement the $3,000, non-refundable income tax credit to volunteer firefighters who have put in 200 hours of service annually. The resolution was moved and debated on the evening of Nov. 18, with 20 fire chiefs and firefighters in dress uniform viewing the proceedings in the visitors’ gallery of the legislature.
Several MLAs and cabinet ministers spoke in favour of the motion. Opposition leader Olive Crane put forth a surprise amendment to the resolution, calling on the province to lead the way on this issue and put in place a provincial income tax credit for volunteer firefighters.
The government side of the house spoke in favour of amendment, with the finance minister stating that the government supports the amendment and will consider it in next spring’s budget.
Currently, the province of Prince Edward Island gives the following benefits and services to the island fire service:
• one free motor vehicle registration annually
• free driver’s license renewals
• free Workers Compensation
• no PST on fire equipment (including apparatus)
• capital funding through the Island Community Fund (equipment and facilities)
• operational funding to the P.E.I. Fire Fighters Association Fire School
• free medical first responder training for departments that provide this service in the province.
Resolutions are not binding to the government, however, most members of the legislative assembly said the tax credit resolution is likely to pass as both the government and the opposition support it and 2011 is an election year.
Next month, the Office of Public Safety, the provincial fire marshal’s office and the P.E.I. Fire Fighters Association are holding a workshop on the future of the island fire service.
This Dec. 4 event has been set up as a proactive forum at which the island’s fire service will focus on three questions:
1. What is working?
2. What are the issues and challenges?
3. What are viable solutions?
Departments have been given worksheets on the topics and have been asked to focus their answers on their home department’s operations and province-wide operations. Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs president Robert Simonds, the fire chief in Saint John, N.B., will be give a keynote address at the session.