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B.C. government agrees to insure SARs

Solicitor General says funding will be provided each year

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Search and Rescue teams can breathe easy for another year, with Solicitor General Kash Heed announcing an additional $180,000 for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association to provide liability insurance through to summer of 2011.

Liability insurance has been an issue for Search and Rescue teams after a Quebec man included the Golden Search and Rescue in a lawsuit following the death of his wife in the backcountry in 2009. The suit claims negligence.

Search and Rescue societies around the province, which operate on a volunteer basis and often raise their own funds for equipment and training, threatened to withdraw their service unless the province could help cover the cost of liability insurance. As many as two-thirds of SAR societies did not carry any liability insurance at the time, although individual members were insured by the province.

The province stepped in to fund the insurance in the summer of 2009, but the insurance was set to expire on Aug. 31, 2010. The new funding will cover the cost of insurance for another year.

"We have over 85 teams that work in the province of British Columbia," Heed told reporters on Tuesday. "We're committed to ensuring that they have liability insurance and we will be moving forward on our commitment again for this year of $180,000, and as the years go forward, to ensure they have that insurance."

Last week, Search and Rescue teams in Alberta had their insurance covered in perpetuity through provincial legislation. In B.C. the NDP opposition is urging the Liberal Party to take the same steps here.

 

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