06/12/2013 11:54 EDT | Updated 08/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Feds sitting on SAR report, Harris says

A Newfoundland MP is accusing the Harper government of sitting on a report that identified problems with search and rescue response times.

The report, delivered to Ottawa in March 2012, cites up to 20 cases where people could have benefited from quicker response times. The study was commissioned by the head of the air force and delivered to Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

St. John's East MP Jack Harris told Parliament Tuesday that he thinks it's shocking that government didn't order changes right away.

"They claim that search and rescue is, and I say, quote, a priority — and then they fail to act when warned — improving response times saves lives," said Harris.

"They were warned, but they didn't act. Why?"

In response to Harris' questions, MacKay said search and rescue crews are surpassing expectations.

"In 2011, 103 [Search and Rescue] Squadron based in Gander — in the member's home province — averaged [a] 21.3-minute reaction time in the 30-minute posture, and 58.7 minutes during the two-hour evening posture," MacKay said.

"Mr. Speaker, this is a remarkable accomplishment."

In April, the auditor general also took the federal government to task for neglecting search and rescue.