According to a CBC story, the Conservative government is considering privatizing the search and rescue roles currently carried out by the Department of National Defence and the Coast Guard.
WTF??!!11!eleven?! If true, then this idea would have to go on the Top Ten Stupid Things The Conservative Government Has Thought Of list. (I’m not sure what would be bumped off the list… that’s for another day.)
Search and rescue requires highly trained, well-equiped people who can, if necessary, be ordered into harm’s way. The military and Coast Guard have both the highly-trained personnel and equipment necessary to undertake search and rescue missions, which often result in their going into very dangerous situations. No private company is going to be able to staff such a venture without recruiting the people from the military or Coast Guard. And even if they can find the people, what company would be willing to assume the incredible liabilities that come with running search and rescue missions?
And then there’s the cost. Flying airplanes and helicopters, running boats and having highly-trained personnel is a very expensive business. How would a private company pay for such a venture? Presumably they would have a contract from the government, but would it really cost less than the current situation? Doubtful, particularly if you take into consideration the fact that the SAR personnel are likely going to come from the military and Coast Guard meaning those organizations are going to have to replace some of the highly-trained personnel.
Search and rescue must remain a function and responsibility of the government. Privatization is not an option.