Executive Council
December 4, 2018

The following statement was issued today by the Honourable Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador:

Premier Ball Announces that Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Will Proceed with the Establishment of an Inquiry into Search and Rescue Services in the Province

Today, I am announcing that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will proceed with the establishment of an inquiry into search and rescue services in our province, in keeping with a commitment we made to the people of the province, to those working in marine environments, and to the family and friends of Burton Winters.

The inquiry will be established in 2019 and will not focus on any one single incident, but examine how services as a whole are provided in this province.

Now that the Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has released its review of Maritime Search and Rescue, we will follow closely whether the Federal Government will accept the findings, as that decision will impact the scope of our inquiry. The Senate review and recommendations will help form the basis of the provincial inquiry.

I appreciate the considerable work and beneficial changes that have already been undertaken by the Federal Government to enhance search and rescue over the last few years. Given the Federal Government’s jurisdiction in maritime search and rescue, coordination would be required before we proceed. To that end, I have already spoken with the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, to express our intentions and begin the process of confirming federal participation. In addition, Minister Parsons has discussed this issue with the federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale.

I have also spoken with family members of Burton Winters. Our efforts through this inquiry are intended to ensure and enhance the safety of the people throughout our province, and their experience is important because it underlines how vital effective and responsive search and rescue support is to the people who need it, and why the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans titled their report on Maritime Search and Rescue “When Every Minute Counts.” While considerable strides have been made with respect to search and rescue, through the mechanism of an inquiry, we will endeavor to identify any remaining gaps and pursue the best possible outcomes for the people of our province.

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Media contact
Jason Card
Office of the Premier

2018 12 04                              12:00 p.m.