OTTAWA, Aug. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - Once again, the importance of keeping the Kitsilano Search and Rescue (SAR) Base open was demonstrated over the weekend. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) SAR specialists were the first to respond to an incident this past Saturday when a cruise ship carrying 250 passengers slammed into two other boats during the Festival of Lights fireworks show in English Bay, Vancouver.
Upon learning of the incident Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) said she wasn't surprised. "CCG should consider this a warning shot if they go ahead with their plan to close Kitsilano Base. Our members were able to get there and get there quickly. Fast forward to a year from now and the image of a hovercraft coming into English Bay amongst hundreds of boaters watching the fireworks to aid more than 250 people in distress will be a thing of the past."
Also over the long weekend, further effects of budget cuts continued. UCTE learnt that instead of spending the money to have radio telecommunications workers on stand-by, a CCG ship, the Tanu, which has a crew of 14 people had to move into the area when two key remote radio telecommunication centres at Esperanza Inlet and at Eliza Dome, BC that are slated for closure experienced radio outages.
During this radio blackout, the crew of the Tanu received two distress calls: one from a float plan and another from a sailing vessel. Luckily the well trained crew was able to provide the assistance required and no one was injured.
"While implementing the budget cuts to these essential frontline services, CCG have argued that the safety of the public is not under threat. And yet, we have three incidents over one long weekend as a result of two very bad decisions," stated Collins. "They are only at the beginning of implementation and look how disastrous things are becoming. The writing is on the wall for someone to be hurt or, even worse, killed in the name of dollars."
The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, represents the ships' crew and search & rescue specialists with the Canadian Coast Guard.
SOURCE: Union of Canadian Transportation Employees
For further information:
Communications & Special Projects Officer, UCTE