Boating in Canada Archive

News Archive: Federal Proposals 1998

The Office of Boating Safety is now responsible for recreational boating policy in Canada.

Summary of Proposals:

  1. Vessel Licensing renamed "Vessel Identification" would apply to all vessels including canoes, rowboats and sailboards. All vessels over 6 metres would renew every two years; others every five years (under review)
  2. Mandatory education (operator licensing) to be required for all boat operators - course accredited by the Canadian Coast Guard.
  3. Course providers begin being authorized starting August 1998.
  4. Children under 12 to be restricted to operating boats with less than 10 HP.
  5. Teens under 16 will be limited to 40 HP.
  6. Proof of proficiency will be required but will be grandfathered.

Boat Operator Regulation, Education:

April 1998:
The Canadian Coast Guard and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans have announced a requirement for all boaters, in all types of boats, to meet a minimum basic knowledge requirement. Officially, the target date to begin is January 1, 1999.

There was a push (Dec/97) to have something in place for the 1998 boating season. From a bureaucratic end, this meant that a decision had to be made by the Minister, by January 15, 1998. Read the meeting notes for more.

This new regulation will be phased in over a number of years. People born after December 31, 1983 will be required to meet the standard to start. Along with knowledge equirements will be age restrictions which will limit unaccompanied qualified children less than 12 years of age to boats with engfines of less than 10 horsepower and unaccompanied qualified children between 12 and 16 years of age to vessels of less than 40 horsepower.

Vessel Identification:

CCG expects to announce requirements for a nation-wide vessel identification program to apply to all vessels - this is on "hold". Renewal periods will likely be two (2) years for most boats, with canoes/rowboats every five years. The system will be operated on a cost recovery basis. Specific fees were not mentioned. [They probably discovered the cost of a boat ownership data base with related processing costs. -Pat]

Safety Equipment:

The Small Vessel Regulations will be changed early in 1998 to give boaters more options on required safety equipment. Some additonal equipment will be required:

Removal of Aids to Navigation:

Many lighthouses and fog horns have already been closed or transferred to the private sector. More are under review. Check the Canadian Coast Guard site, their Navigation Aids to Navigation or the aids "modernization" program .

Weather Forecasting reductions:

During boating season, Environment Canada plans to use three daily forecasts at 03:00, 10:00 aand 15:00. Weather warnings will continue to be issued. The near shore forecast for the Great Lakes will no longer be available. Several shoreline automatic weather stations were to be closed for 1998. Atmospheric Environmental Service (AES) has suggested using volunteer weather people!


There are 1.5 million licenced 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 laws.