Boating in Canada Archive

Licensing Archive 1995-97

October 1997: The Canadian Coast Guard has formulated a proposal for minimum mandatory education standards. Canadian boating organizations have been asked for their review and comment. It is not known if these standards will be legislated or how they will be implemented. Take a boating course now!

December 1996 The 1996 federal budget outlined plans for boat license fees. Proposed boat licences would also have to be renewed annually -- with a fee paid. [Boats with motors over 10 HP must have a licence only at the time of purchase.] Plans to impose the fees seem to be on hold according to Tony Rogers of the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation. The theory is that it is due to the impending federal election.

July 1996: In the wake of yet another coroner's jury recommending regulation of the waterways, Ontario boaters could face new licenses, mandatory education, and traffic tickets on the water (from Boating News 1998). The Federal and Ontario governments have put their heads together and want to force all boaters to take boating safety courses in order to "operate" a boat.

Stay tuned. Better yet, contact your federal Member of Parliament and provincial MPP and complain about these "money grabs". Read about the new federal Contravention Act and news federal proposals for licensing boats and operators.

Estimates say there are one million boat owners in Canada. If the fee were $15, it comes to $15 million per year. That is a lot of spare change! Any bureaucracy that can handle exams and licensing will cost a lot more than that! One can only hope "personal water craft" will not be exempt. [Many PWC don't carry legal mandatory equipment.] PWC's have proportionally more accidents than other types of boats and the majority of deaths are caused by collisions. Deaths from other types of boats are mainly people drowning without a life jacket. There is no news yet on what any of this means to registered vessels.

Canadian boating organizations have opposed licenses for boats and operators because they believe that the government is simply interested in a cash grab from people that are perceived to be "rich" and poorly organized.

The Canadian Marine manufacturers (CMMA) also is NOT in favor of licensing boat operators . Their view is that training, mandatory for young boaters, is the solution to curtail the activities of the few reckless boaters who are the source of the problems on the water.

The only U.S. state to anact boat operator licensing, Alabama, has seen its fatalities increase in 1994 and 1995, after operator licensing went into effect! Generally, boating fatalities have been falling steadily over the last 20 years, in spite of increasing numbers of boats on the water.

Under a new Canadian law, police will give out tickets for boating infractions and the boater will be able to mail in their fine (similar to highway tickets). This law should be be in place in 1996.

All this change has been the result of the Joint Working Group on Recreational Boating Safety formed in 1995. The program started with Ontario and the Federal Government but is expanding to include other provinces.

There are 1.5 million licensed boats in Canada (not counting small boats with no engine or engines of 10 HP or less). This includes boats having more than one! Other estimates say one million boat-owners will be affected by new fees. 

Canada Gazette 13 Jun/98 (PDF to HTML conversion by Ken Watson) provides regulation summary: Regulatory Impact Anallysis,Proposed Regulatory Text, Competency of Operators of Pleasure Yachts Regulations, CCG-Accredited Courses (and Test), etc.

Michael Vollmer, OSA President Sept/98 sent these points about "Operator Licensing" to GAM magazine.

Toronto Globe & Mail 2 Apr/98) Ottawa to launch boating crackdown Jan. 1, 1999

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