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Would you like to serve as a volunteer with the Canadian Coast Guard?

Then consider joining the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary as a search and rescue volunteer! Search and Rescue volunteers are most often experienced 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 (Auxiliary) is a network of non-profit organizations that augment maritime SAR response capacity in federal search and rescue mandated waters as official partners of the Canadian Coast Guard . The Auxiliary supports the Coast Guard, National Defence and Transport Canada with search and rescue and safe boating programs.

When it comes to search and rescue (SAR), it is essential that enough rescue boats are available to provide the best coverage, so that they may respond immediately to the scene of an incident. Reaction has to be fast – lives depend on it.

Search and Rescue in Canada is coordinated from one of three Joint Canadian Rescue Coordination Centers known as JRCCs, or from one of two Maritime Rescue Sub-Centres (MRSC). JRCCs, staffed by SAR coordinators from the Canadian Military and the Canadian Coast Guard, and MRSCs staffed with Canadian Coast Guard coordinators are on full alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.

Rescue Centres direct the closest and most appropriate resources to a call for assistance.

Did you know?

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is a major player in Canada’s national SAR response network. Each year, the Auxiliary responds to about 25 % of an average 7,000 marine and humanitarian 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. Members are mainly pleasure craft operators and commercial fishermen who use their own vessels or community owned vessels for safe boating education and SAR-related activities.

Currently, the Auxiliary fleet includes about 1,000 vessels. This fleet of vessels is comprised of many owner-operated vessels (commercial fishers, pleasure craft). However, some Auxiliary orgs. rely extensively on community-owned dedicated SAR vessels.

All vessels must meet strict standards in order to become part of the Auxiliary fleet. Members are responsible for keeping their boats maintained. They are also required to equip them with vessel equipment required by federal regulation, whereas the Coast Guard covers cost related to specialized search and rescue and first aid.

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers work in support of the Canadian Coast Guard mandate and are funded by the Canadian Coast Guard through Contribution Agreements. The Auxiliary mission is to save lives on the water.

A volunteer’s first role is to rescue people in difficulty or distress on the water. Volunteers must be available mainly during the navigation season in order to respond to calls. 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 2018, Auxiliary members responded to over 1,700 SAR calls and participated in over 35,000 hours of training and exercising.

Where can I volunteer?

The territory covered by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is vast. Canada's area of responsibility for maritime 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 waters, such as the great lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

There are Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliaries across the country:

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. However, Auxiliary volunteers are reimbursed for eligible expenditures related to their participation in authorized marine activities (i.e. training, fuel costs, first aid equipment etc.).

On the other hand, a person who becomes a member of the Auxiliary will be part of a great team, whose history is filled with many feats of successful missions, and lives saved. Auxiliary membership is motivated by pride and the thanks received from the victims and their families.

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