Chatham-Kent firefighters tackle garage fire (Image courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Fire Department via X)Chatham-Kent firefighters tackle garage fire (Image courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Fire Department via X)

Federal budget will recognize financial burden of volunteer firefighters

When the federal government presents its budget on Tuesday, it'll include a token of its appreciation for volunteer firefighters.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland could announce a doubling of the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit and the Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit.

Those volunteers can claim up to $3,000 of their expenses on their income tax return. That would rise to $6,000, saving them as much as $900 annually.

"This increase will particularly benefit rural communities where firefighters are most often volunteers," read a release from the federal government.

Ahead of the announcement, Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk spoke with area mayors. Tecumseh has 42 volunteer firefighters and about 100 in Lakeshore.

"It's not just fires. They respond to medical [calls]. They respond to accidents and all sorts of calls," said Kusmierczyk. "They go through the same absolutely rigorous training that other firefighters who are salaried go through."

The costs of undergoing that training can be costly for those who take time off work. The burden is too much for some, and some municipalities face challenges recruiting new firefighters.

"This has been well over a year of advocacy from firefighters, communities, and Members of Parliament," said Kusmierczyk. "Last year, Canada had a record season of wildfires across Canada with 17 million hectares of land burning. We felt it here in Windsor and Tecumseh with all the smoke and smog."

He said the increased credit is a small token of the government's appreciation.

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