There has been a lot of speculation about changes to the Coast Guard and how they will affect safety on Vancouver Island.
I have represented the riding of Vancouver Island North since 1993 and lived on Vancouver Island for 40 years. I understand the importance of the Coast Guard.
I am supportive of the decisions made by the government and by the Coast Guard on Vancouver Island.
The Coast Guard will continue to use the same network of ships and responders on the Island to keep mariners safe in an emergency situation and the ongoing renewal of Coast Guard resources will make Vancouver Island a safer place to be on the water. The Island will continue to be served by the same network of search and rescue lifeboats and the Search and Rescue helicopter and fixed wing capacity at CFB Comox.
Search and Rescue lifeboat situations will continue to operate from Campbell River, Port Hardy, Powell River, Tofino, Bamfield and Salt Spring Island.
Our government has recently made unprecedented investments in the protection of Canadians at sea.
Over the past six years, the government has invested close to $1.4 billion to ensure the Coast Guard fleet is ready to serve Canadians when called upon. As a part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2010, our government invested $175 million in the Canadian Coast Guard to procure 68 new small vessels, 30 environmental barges, and to undertake major repair work on 40 of its largest vessels.
Vancouver Island and the Mainland will continue to be served by the existing 46 radio towers and five major radar sites that monitor shipping patterns, broadcast weather or other alerts and pick up distress calls from the water.
Currently, there is a service gap among the five B.C. centres; if one centre goes down because of a power failure or has an unexpected high call volume, it cannot ask for help from a neighbouring centre. Our government is fixing this problem to provide consistent, uninterrupted service to mariners.
We are upgrading the Prince Rupert and Victoria centres with the best available technology, ensuring they are integrated, equipping them with better resources and additional staff where needed, and, ultimately, these changes will improve the Coast Guard’s already-excellent service record to Canadians.
Editor’s note: MP John Duncan is the minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development.