Provincial Government Calling On Federal Government to Bolster Search and Rescue Services in Labrador

Press Release

November 16, 2022

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on the Federal Government to take immediate action to improve federal search and rescue operations in Labrador. The demand for action is shared by stakeholders from the marine and fishing industry, safety advocates and governments, as well as identified as a recommendation from the Public Inquiry Respecting Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons.

This need was passionately highlighted by Ms. Jeanette Russell of Mary’s Harbour, whose son – Marc – and his crewmate Joey Jenkins were lost at sea, during a presentation to the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association on November 2, 2022. Ms. Russell in her remarks stated:

“There is an absence of adequate federal search and rescue resources in Labrador. Labrador’s vast coastline and land mass warrants a dedicated, primary search and rescue unit to address the current deficit in search and rescue infrastructure.”

Additionally, recommendation seven of the Public Inquiry Respecting Ground Search and Rescue For Lost and Missing Persons called on the Provincial Government to establish an agreement with the Government of Canada to ensure “helicopter resources are made available to support ground search and rescue operations in equal priority to their support for aeronautical and marine search and rescue operations.”

Discussions have been held with the Federal Government about operational issues on the coast of Labrador and the need to establish aircraft, marine craft, and other resources in the region, as we seek to work with Canada in collaboration with stakeholders and Indigenous Governments and Organizations. A delegation of ministers and Labrador stakeholders is travelling to Ottawa in February to meet with federal ministers.


“People and communities in Labrador have been deeply impacted by the loss of life associated with tragic incidents that have taken place in the waters and the sea ice off Labrador. Labrador has more than 17,000 kilometres of coastline, yet there is not a single fast rescue craft station in Labrador. That is completely unacceptable when a timely response to incidents can mean the difference between life and death. 5 Wing Goose Bay should be designated as a primary search and rescue unit and fast rescue craft stations must be established in Labrador.”

Honourable Lisa Dempster
Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs
Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation

“Given the nature of the province’s economy and its relationship to the fishery, offshore oil and gas, and marine transportation, along with the unique perspectives and challenges inherent in working and living in this province’s harsh environment, marine and air search and rescue services in Labrador is vitally important. It is critical to the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that assets in this province are not only modern and state-of-the-art, but also are appropriately located.”

Honourable John Hogan, KC
Minister of Justice and Public Safety

“Pointing out the vast expanse of the Labrador coast as the challenge for responding does not recognize, nor support, the high risk for residents and others who work here. Canada depends on these resources, this workforce, and safe communities. It is essential to establish Labrador-based Search and Rescue operations at 5 Wing Goose Bay and fast craft rescue stations on the coast.”

Perry Trimper
MHA for Lake Melville


Learn more

Final Report of the Ground Search and Rescue Inquiry Released

Final Report: Public Inquiry Respecting Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons

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Media contacts
Allan Bock
Labrador Affairs Secretariat

Emily-Jane Gillingham
Justice and Public Safety
709-729-2634, 730-4607

Bonnie Learning
Constituency Assistant to Perry Trimper, MHA for Lake Melville


  • In Canada, SAR services span a multitude of jurisdictions. The Federal Government has responsibility to aeronautical SAR (Canadian Armed Forces), marine SAR (Canadian Coast Guard) and national parks incidents (Parks Canada). Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for missing and lost persons on land or inland waters.
  • In December 2021, the Department of Justice and Public Safety released the final report of the Inquiry into Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Led by former Provincial Court Judge James Igloliorte, the Inquiry examined the organization and operations of the ground search and rescue system in the Province.
  • The Inquiry did not have jurisdiction to examine the management and operation of federal entities. Ground search and rescue includes provisions for air support and that assistance is provided by federal entities. Further, federal entities voluntarily participated in the Ground Search and Rescue Inquiry.
  • The Inquiry issued 17 recommendations, some of which fell within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. Key recommendations included:
    • Increased use of the Civil Air Search And Rescue Association spotters;
    • Mental health training for policing agencies and search and rescue teams;
    • Funding and insurance benefits to support the Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association;
    • Ensuring current gaps in contracted air assets are addressed; and
    • A review of the 911 process to ensure distress calls are tasked in an optimal manner.
  • The Provincial Government supported the recommendations in principle and undertook an analysis and consulted with stakeholders on the best approach to implementing the recommendations.
  • In Budget 2022, the Provincial Government committed $1.8 million to the Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association (NLSARA) for implementation of Inquiry recommendations, as well as funding for equipment and training. This is in addition to $191,000 which is provided annually to NLSARA.
  • Budget 2022 also included a $21 million investment in a new province-wide radio system that enables emergency responders to communicate effectively.


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