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.

Evaluation Findings


The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Emergency Management and Programs Branch should:

  1. 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.
  2. Explore ways to improve collection and sharing of project data to support national SAR policy and enhance knowledge management at the national level.
  3. Improve the SAR NIF’s application and approval processes to ensure sufficient outreach, support and accessibility.
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