Singing from the same hymn sheet on mandatory PFD wear

Andy Adams 2018 Edited 400

Mar 7, 2023

Perhaps the most important thing that I learned during the intense lobbying sessions opposing the Luxury Tax that the NMMA Canada organized for the industry at the “Day on the Hill” lobbying sessions was that you have to have an “ask”.

Many of the MPs and high-ranking officials that we spoke to would quickly go to this question – what was our “ask”?

Regular Boating Industry Canada News Week readers know that I strongly encourage them to take an active role with their marine trade associations. This is one of the most important reasons why. Our industry needs to have a clear position on any issue that may have significant impact on our businesses and your marine trade association is the best way to hammer it out and carry our position forward.

On the issue of Mandatory PFD wear; Transport Canada extended the date for public input to March 5 but that has now expired. Expect the process will now move to the spring Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) meetings where new legislation about Mandatory PFD wear will have been clearly drafted by those who are lobbying in favor it.

The very important point here is that Canada’s marine industry needs to have a clearly expressed position and it needs to be unanimous. Any changes to the laws will be federal. Don’t expect any local exceptions.
Mandatory PFD wear has been researched and discussed for many years. Those advocating on the side of boating safety have always had a very clear position of wanting mandatory PFD wear to the greatest possible extent.

I had a discussion this past week with Jim Wielgosz, NMMA Canada Interim Executive Director. He explained NMMA Canada’s position on Mandatory PFD wear:

NMMA Canada supports mandatory wear of life jackets in several situations, including:

  • Children 12-years-old and younger, when the child is above deck and the boat is underway;
  • Operating a personal watercraft or human-powered vessel;
  • Engaging in tow sports.

NMMA does not support making life jackets mandatory for all recreational boaters regardless of age or vessel size.

That statement is in harmony with the NMMA position in the United States. Canada’s CMAC meetings will be coming up soon and I encourage everyone in the industry to contact their marine trade association, find out what their position is and to reach an exact agreement on what our “ask” is.

That is the only way the government can proceed on issues like this and those in favour of Mandatory PFD wear already have a clear “ask”. If we have a different “ask”, we need to get that out loud and clear so we are all singing from the same hymn sheet on mandatory PFD wear.


Andy Adams – Editor

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