Boating Safety and Safe Boating Blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Open Letter to the Hon. Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Government of Canada

Re: Ensuring Greater Boating Safety for Canadians

Dear Minister;

We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you and Transport Canada as you move ahead with tighter regulations and strengthened training measures to ensure greater boating safety in Canadian waters.

Recreational boating is a favourite pastime in Canada with between seven and nine million people enjoying Canadian waterways each year. Sadly, however, over 200 boating fatalities occur each year along with an estimated 6,000 non-fatal accidents - most of them preventable.

We are Transport Canada approved course providers and fully support the improvements to the program that will come into effect in the Spring of 2011. Along with many in the boating community, we feel that these changes will significantly help to achieve the common goal of making our waterways safer.

We applaud the over two million boaters who have already obtained their Pleasure Craft Operator Card and we encourage the remaining boating public to benefit from taking a boating safety course, in class or online. The program has come under some scrutiny in the past and we want to commend you and your Department for addressing these concerns with changes to the program that will come into effect April 15, 2011.

As leaders in boater education across Canada, we have certified more than one million boaters over the past ten years, and we look forward to our continued role, along with other approved course providers and your Department, to help implement these important safety enhancements for our recreational boaters in Canada.


Robert Dupel

On behalf of:
AAA Boating Safety Standards
ASM Safe Boating
The Safe Boater Training Program
Forensic & Nautical Consultants of Canada (FNCC) Inc.

Backgrounder to Open Letter:

Changes to Boating Safety and Licensing Procedures

The general public and pleasure boaters had expressed concern that anyone of any age could operate a powered watercraft without having any prior boating experience and so the Operator Competency Program and the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC, commonly referred to as a boating licence) was launched in 1999.

Common misconceptions about this law are that children must be 16 years old to get certified and that seniors over 65 years don't require the card. This law applies to boaters of all ages; there are no age exemptions or minimum age to get certified. Others think that they don't need the card if their motor is less than 10 horsepower, but in fact it's needed to operate any size motor, even an electric motor on a canoe, for example.

On September 15, 2009 this program completed its ten-year phase-in period and is now law for all recreational boat operators in Canada.

New Requirements Coming into Effect April 15, 2011:

  • The Operator Competency test will be increasing from 36 to 50 questions
  • The Internet safe boating test will also change to a required study format where students will need to spend a minimum of 3 hours studying online before taking the final 50 question test® along with AAA Boating Safety Standards, ASM Safe Boating, The Safe Boater Training Program, and Forensic & Nautical Consultants of Canada (FNCC) Inc. are leaders in boater education across Canada and are Transport Canada approved course providers.


See Chuck Strahl's response to this letter