Would you like to serve as a volunteer with the Canadian Coast Guard?
Then consider joining the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary as a rescue volunteer! Rescue volunteers are highly experienced boaters or navigators who combine their passion for boating with their desire to help others.
What is the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary?
The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is comprised of five regional and one national non-profit organizations made up of more than 4,000 volunteer members throughout Canada. The Auxiliary organizes volunteer efforts to help the Coast Guard with marine search and rescue and safe boating programs.
When it comes to search and rescue (SAR), it is essential that enough resources are available to provide the best coverage, so that they may go immediately to the scene of an accident. Reaction has to be fast – lives depend on it.
Most calls for assistance come through one of three Joint Rescue Coordination Centres in Canada, known as JRCCs; or from a Maritime Rescue Sub-centre (Coast Guard only). The JRCC’s, staffed by SAR coordinators from the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Coast Guard, are on full alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.
JRCCs and MRSCs task the closest and most appropriate resources to respond to incidents.
Did you know?
The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is a major player in Canada´s national search and rescue (SAR) response network. Each year, the Auxiliary responds to more than 25% of the average 6,000 marine SAR incidents. This translates into more than 200 lives saved each year.
Volunteer network and fleet
The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is made up of close to 4,000 dedicated volunteers, operating more than 1100 vessels. The Auxiliary is an important and efficient means of supplementing the on-water SAR response capacity in Canada.
This volunteer fleet of vessels is comprised of many owner-operated vessels (commercial fishers, pleasure craft). However some regions rely extensively on community-owned dedicated SAR vessels.
All vessels must meet strict standards in order to become part of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary fleet. Members are responsible for keeping their boats maintained to meet these standards.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work in support of the Canadian Coast Guard mandate, funded through five regional contribution agreements. Their mission is to save lives on the water and educate water-users on safe practices.
Auxiliary assets are strategically located between Coast Guard assets where maritime traffic is concentrated and marine risks are high. Volunteers must be available mainly during the navigation season in order to respond to calls for assistance. They must also undergo training and participate in practical exercises to keep skills up-to-date and be ready when it really matters.
To prevent accidents and loss of life, volunteers also:
- conduct courtesy exams of pleasure craft and small fishing vessels
- give marine safety equipment demonstrations
- participate in safe boating courses, displays, and boat shows
Did you know?
In 2015, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary units responded to more than 1,800 SAR calls for assistance and participated in thousands of on-water and land-based training exercises.
Where can I volunteer?
The territory covered by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is vast. Canada's area of responsibility for search and rescue stretches over 5.3 million square kilometers, bordering some of the most rugged coastline in the world. The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is also present on many of Canada's major inland waterways that are serviced by Coast Guard’s SAR program (St. Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes etc.).
There are Canadian Coast Guard auxiliaries across the country:
- Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (CCGA Pacific Inc.)
- CCGA Central & Arctic Inc.
- CCGA Quebec Inc.
- CCGA Maritimes Inc.
- CCGA Newfoundland Inc.
In seaside villages, marinas, and ports across Canada, volunteers are organized into units that handle missions in their area. Each unit is led by an elected unit leader. A group of units combines to make up a zone led by a Director.
Did you know?
The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary has been recognized as one of the best, safest and most cost-effective volunteer marine rescue organizations in the world, with many national and international awards.
Pay and benefits
Volunteers are not paid for the work they do. When taking part in authorized SAR activities, vessel owners are reimbursed for expenses related to the SAR tasking, i.e. fuel.
On the other hand, a person who becomes a member of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary will be part of a great team, whose history is filled with many feats of successful missions, and lives saved. Auxiliary members are motivated by pride and the thanks received from those they have assisted and their families.
Did you know?
Because volunteers are only reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses when tasked to a SAR mission, the Government of Canada receives around $37 in services from the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary for every dollar actually spent. In other words, Auxiliary volunteers save Canadian taxpayers millions by providing this volunteer service.
How do I become a volunteer?
Are you a skilled navigator with a Pleasure Craft Operator Certificate? Then contact the CCGA regional office nearest you to find out how you can help.
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