Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) announcement today to replace Search and Rescue personnel with Auxilliary volunteers is a direct insult to mariners in Vancouver according to Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.

“With five auxiliary stations in the Greater Vancouver area, one would think that CCG would want at least one base that would have dedicated, trained professionals with appropriate resources who can deal with any eventuality”, said Collins. “This decision goes to show you that their bottom line doesn’t consider the value of a human life.”

As part of its budget saving measures, the CCG had decided to close the search and rescue station in Kitsilano, BC. The public outcry and criticism from various professional stakeholders over the decision has resulted in this latest move by the government.

The new Auxilliary station will be located in Stanley Park. The issue of the time required to respond to emergency situations in the Kitsilano base area, Canada’s largest port that is crowded with recreational and commercial shipping and boating traffic, will not disappear.

“This is a shell game,” said Collins. “The CCG is trying to create the illusion that all will be well but experience has taught us you can’t replace skilled professionals with well-intentioned volunteer recreational boaters. It’s like asking a St. John’s ambulance responder to do the job of a paramedic. I’m afraid people will die before the decision makers realize that this isn’t a game.”

UCTE will be hosting a rally on January 19, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Jericho Sailing Centre to oppose federal Conservative government closure of the Kitsilano base. The public is welcome.