Summary of the Evaluation of the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund
About the Program
The Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund (SAR NIF) was established as a contribution program in 1988 by the Department of National Defense to support national search and rescue activities. It was transferred to Public Safety Canada in 2015. The SAR NIF funds projects that contribute to one of the core objectives of the national SAR program (improved response capabilities or incident prevention), as well as one of the priorities identified by Public Safety in the call for proposals. Identified priorities have ranged from supporting volunteers, to SAR in Northern and Remote Areas, to Indigenous SAR.
Canadian search and rescue services are a shared responsibility amongst federal and provincial/territorial governments in collaboration with municipalities, volunteers, the private sector and other partners. This wide-ranging list of authorities and partners, combined with Canada’s expansive geography, diverse topography and contrasting climates, make elements such as cooperation, collaboration and capacity essential to the successful provision of SAR services.
What We Examined
The purpose of the evaluation was to examine the relevance, design and implementation, and performance of the SAR NIF from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The evaluation used multiple lines of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to ensure triangulation of findings.
- The SAR NIF provides positive and necessary support for search and rescue capabilities across Canada, particularly in the area of ground SAR.
- Data availability related to volunteer SAR activities across Canada is limited.
- The SAR NIF aligns with governmental priorities and departmental objectives to strengthen national emergency preparedness to help prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from all-hazards events.
- Sufficient governance structures were found to be in place for the SAR NIF, and were provided through the SAR NIF Terms and Conditions and the SAR NIF Merit Board.
- The SAR NIF has facilitated the development of partnerships. Public Safety has not taken an active role in sharing the results of SAR NIF-funded projects.
- GBA+ considerations have been taken into account in the program design and implementation of the SAR NIF, however SAR NIF projects do not currently collect or track GBA+ related data.
- Concerns were found regarding the administration of the SAR NIF, particularly with the application process and the monitoring and sharing of performance data.
The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Emergency Management and Programs Branch should:
- Develop and communicate the priorities of the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSRS) and overall policy direction for SAR support within Public Safety Canada, and ensure that the priorities and objectives of the SAR NIF are aligned.
- Explore ways to improve collection and sharing of project data to support national SAR policy and enhance knowledge management at the national level.
- Improve the SAR NIF’s application and approval processes to ensure sufficient outreach, support and accessibility.
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