Apr 27, 2021

NMMA CanadaNational Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Canada and the provincial Marine Trade Associations welcomed the news earlier in April that Transport Canada would be preserving the rental boat safety checklist. The move was communicated at the Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) virtual meeting. 

Last Fall, Transport Canada had proposed several changes to the Pleasure Craft Licensing (PCL) and Pleasure Craft Operator Competency (PCOC) programs, including:

• Introducing a $15 service fee for pleasure craft licenses;

• Reducing the pleasure craft license validity period to five years from 10 years;

• Removing the Rental Boat Safety Checklist as an acceptable proof of competency and requiring anyone renting a boat to have a PCOC or equivalent.

The proposal to remove the Rental Boat Safety Checklist was met with a massive outcry from the recreational boating industry—particularly boat rental operators—who highlighted the lack of hard data to support the change and severe economic damage it would lead to. 

“The Rental Boat Safety Checklist is an important safety tool that Transport Canada has invested in over the years”, noted NMMA Canada president Sara Anghel. “Removing it wouldn’t make our waters safer and it would punish boat rental companies already struggling under pandemic-related border closures and travel restrictions”. 

While the PCOC is an important piece of boater education in Canada, it is a high barrier of entry for the casual boater or tourist wanting to enjoy an afternoon on the water. The PCOC is also a poor substitute for the dockside briefing that renters get as part of the rental checklist. In fact, since the PCOC does not require any on-water experience, the Rental Boat Safety Checklist may be the only hands-on introduction a new boater gets.

Transport Canada has listened to the concerns of the boating industry and will not be moving ahead with the removal of the rental checklist. Instead, the department would require all persons under the age of 21 renting a personal watercraft to hold a PCOC unless accompanied by a person over 25 years of age—which mirrors the current practice for automobile rentals. 

Anghel praised Transport Canada officials for listening to public feedback and adjusting the regulatory changes in response. 

“Our industry has worked constructively with Transport Canada for many years to promote a safe and enjoyable experience on the water for all boaters”, she said. “We look forward to continuing this collaborative approach as the department modernizes Canada’s security and safety regulations”.