Response from Chuck Strah, Minister of Transport

This past November we sent an open letter to the Hon. Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport to congratulate him and Transport Canada for moving ahead with tighter regulations and training measures to ensure greater boating safety in Canadian waters.

Here is his response:

Re: National Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program

Dear Mr. Dupel:

Thank you for your correspondence of November 17, 2010, regarding your support for the improvements Transport Canada is making to the National Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program.

It is with great pleasure that Transport Canada acknowledges the feedback, input, support, and cooperation of many stakeholders, including the five Course Providers that you represent, in bringing about these significant and timely improvements.

As you know, the National Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program has experienced many issues and challenges since its inception in 1999. However, through a strategy of iterative and transparent consultations, Transport Canada is attempting to address both stakeholders’ and the public’s concerns with strong measures that put the emphasis back on high-quality boating safety education for all.

Transport Canada firmly believes that the recent enhancements, including the new Boating Safety Course and Test Syllabus, the new national database, and the new Internet standard, together with the implementation of new and improved boating safety tests and the Internet process slated for implementation in spring 2011, will go a long way to strengthen the foundations upon which the Program was built. This includes the fundamental belief that increasing boating safety knowledge across the recreational boating population would ultimately result in safer waters.

These improvements are particularly important in a time when the popularity of recreational boating appears to be on the rise. In fact, many of the enhancements to the Boating Safety Course and Test Syllabus, and the need to ensure online testing is connected to an actual learning process, is due in part to emerging concerns associated with increased recreational boating in traditional commercial shipping lanes. Transport Canada needed to have a higher level of assurance that passing a test to obtain the Pleasure Craft Operator Card was truly reflective of possessing the necessary boating knowledge to operate safely on shared waterways.

I would like to thank you for your support and feedback during the consultations leading to the improvements now being made to the National Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program. In particular, the new boating tests Transport Canada will launch in April 2011 are due, in large part, to the participation of four of your companies in the National Test Assessment Project earlier this year, in which the new boating safety tests were piloted: AAA Boating Safety Standards, BOATERexam.com®, the Safe Boater Training Program, and Forensic & Nautical Consultants of Canada Inc.

Your interest in helping to implement a higher-quality boating safety test resulted in about 1,700 of your clients across the country taking the pilot test, providing Transport Canada with statistically significant information to move forward with a new and improved test that meets education standards for validity and reliability. This is a significant step forward in ensuring that all boaters who pass a boating safety test in the future have the required level of knowledge that is implied by the Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

I am personally appreciative of the tremendous level of commitment you have shown through reaching over one million recreational boaters through your companies’ activities since the National Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Program was implemented in 1999, and I am particularly appreciative of the commitment you have made to continue to work cooperatively with Transport Canada to implement these important program enhancements, which will no doubt help achieve our common goal of safer waterways for all Canadians.

Again, thank you for writing.



Chuck Strahl