Cobourg Council Supports a Better Deal for Volunteer Firefighters

In City Hall

(Today’s Northumberland file photo)

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumbeerland
A campaign for better tax breaks for volunteer firefighters won the support of Cobourg council at its February meeting.

The issue arose in the form of correspondence from several municipalities stating their support of the volunteer firefighters that account for 71% of Canada’s total firefighting first responders (not to mention some 8,000 essential search-and-rescue volunteers).

The current tax codes allow them to claim a $3,000 tax credit if they complete 200 hours of volunteer service in a calendar year. However, this works out to a mere $450 per year – a poor return not only for putting their lives on the line but also for undergoing all the appropriate training to provide these services.

The call was made to amend the Income Tax Act in order to increase this tax-credit amount to $10,000.

“I am in support of this motion,” declared Councillor Brian Darling, a retired firefighter.

“Back when I was a volunteer firefighter, there was a tax relief for volunteers that was taken away by the government. It looks like some people are looking to reinstate that.”

Mayor Lucas Cleveland called on Fire Chief Ellard Beaven for his comments, and found him also in favour.

“Our firefighters respond to hundreds of events,” Beaven stated, from active fires to automobile wrecks to training sessions. His estimate was that there were “upwards of 300 fire calls a year.

“These are not scheduled events. They are called out Christmas, into snowstorms, out of family events. This is deserving of support for our 20 volunteer firefighters.”

Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty noted that there’s an on-line petition for this issue, which she encourages citizens to look up and sign.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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