June 6, 2011, Toronto - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reintroduced a $3,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters in this afternoon's federal budget.
June 6, 2011, Toronto – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reintroduced a
$3,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters in this afternoon's federal
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) released this statement from president Rob Simonds after the budget was announced:
"The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) commends the federal government for reintroducing a $3,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters in the 2011 Federal Budget.
We were delighted with its proposal prior to the election and with the attention the volunteer fire services received from all parties during the campaign. We would like to recognize the government for following through on its campaign commitment to pass this important initiative into law. This measure will help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters across the country, which will in turn help protect Canadians and our communities.
The CAFC will continue to work constructively with the federal government and all Members of Parliament to ensure the safety of Canadians, our firefighters and our communities.”
Originally announced on March 22, volunteer firefighters across Canada who serve more than 200 hours a year will be eligible for the credit, which amounts to a savings of between about $450 and $750 for the average volunteer firefighter. The tax break would cost the government $5 million this year and $15 million in subsequent years.
The CAFC has worked for years, with support of several MPs from all parties, to attain the credit in an effort to solve the recruitment and retention problem the Canadian fire service faces. The CAFC launched its givefirefighterscredit.ca website in the fall to bolster public support for the tax credit through letters and postcards to MPs and an online petition.
The CAFC says Canada’s volunteer firefighters give their communities an average of 443 hours of service – the equivalent of 60 workdays – a year. More than 3,200 Canadian communities are protected by volunteer departments. More than 78 per cent of Canada’s 108,000 firefighters are volunteers.
“With municipalities having difficulties in recruiting and retaining volunteers, we hope that this will be a great asset to them,” said Tim Beckett, president of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, in March after the tax credit was initially announced.
Rob Simonds, president of the CAFC, said the association is working hard to develop strong relationships with the government to advance fire-service issues.
“We feel we have a responsibility to government – in particular for federal issues – to be a friend to government and be able to advise and clarify what the issues of interest are to the Canadian fire service. So, we definitely have an advocacy role and that advocacy role includes articulating what those concerns are.”
The budget can be read online here.