Government of Canada announces improvements to Canada’s Search and Rescue system
July 24, 2015
OTTAWA – Today, Defence Minister Jason Kenney and Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced a series of measures that will help strengthen the SAR system, including investment in a satellite system to improve detection of activated emergency beacons.
The measures to further modernize and improve Canada’s world-class integrated SAR capacity include investment in the Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) satellite capability of up to $249 million, as identified in the 2015 Defence Acquisition Guide, and the transfer of the National Search and Rescue Secretariat from the Department of National Defence to Public Safety Canada. These measures complement other recent steps which have been taken to enhance the SAR capacity of both the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Transport Canada also announced new initiatives designed to improve “Places of Refuge” planning and to support safer travel through the Arctic, all part of a whole-of-government approach to strengthened Search and Rescue capability from coast to coast to coast.
Building on Canada’s longstanding contribution to the international SAR community, Canada is going to build up to 24 MEOSAR repeaters, and up to three ground stations to be networked internationally. The repeaters will be installed on the United States Air Force Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites over the coming decade in order to improve the detection and increase the location accuracy of activated emergency beacons from up to four hours to near real time.
The Department of National Defence has been authorized to negotiate and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Air Force for the procurement and supply of Canadian Search and Rescue Repeaters that will integrated on American GPS satellites and will be fully interoperable with the international MEOSAR system.
The transfer of the National Search and Rescue Secretariat from the Department of National Defence to Public Safety Canada is effective immediately. It builds on the delivery of SAR services in Canada and will contribute to improved SAR interoperability, coordination, and prevention efforts. The transfer takes advantage of Public Safety Canada’s extensive experience in coordinating among government institutions, as well as its cooperation with provincial, territorial, and non-government organizations on emergency management matters.
Under the responsibility of Public Safety Canada, the National Search and Rescue Secretariat will continue its role as a central coordinator for the National SAR Program.
The Department of National Defence will keep its lead role for the delivery of airborne SAR operations, just as the Canadian Coast Guard will remain responsible for maritime SAR, and lead responsibility for ground SAR will rest with the provinces and territories.
A series of procurements will assist the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard in fulfilling their SAR responsibilities. These include: the acquisition of new SAR Life Boats as well as new light and medium helicopters for the Coast Guard, and the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) in 2015 to replace the Air Force’s current fleet of Fixed-Wing SAR aircraft.
“The Government is making sure that Canada’s search and rescue capabilities continue to improve and keep up with the times. I am confident the measures we announced today will help keep Canadians safe and will allow SAR professionals and volunteers do their jobs even more effectively.”
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence
“I am pleased to welcome the National Search and Rescue Secretariat to Public Safety Canada portfolio. The transfer is an opportunity to leverage Public Safety Canada’s expertise and leadership in coordinating among government institutions and in cooperation with provincial and territorial organizations and other non-government stakeholders on emergency management matters. We look forward to continue pursuing our common goal of building a safe and resilient Canada.”
The Honourable Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“The Government of Canada proudly supports the National Search and Rescue (SAR) Program. In particular, Canada’s commitment to improving “Places of Refuge” planning will unquestionably help those vessels in need of assistance on the water. Furthermore, the work and forward thinking being developed to support safe Arctic voyages is necessary to ensure safe passage under unique conditions.”
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport