The Ontario Government is one step closer to making life jackets mandatory for children 12 and under in recreational boating.

Joshua’s Law, a Private Member’s Bill, was introduced to the Ontario legislature yesterday by MPP Goldie Ghamari of Carleton for First Reading.

The Lifejackets for Life Act was considered last year, lead by PC MPP Norman Miller of Parry Sound-Muskoka. The Act made it to second reading with the support of all parties. It was unfortunately stopped as a result of the Provincial election.

The current Bill is named after Joshua Steinburg, aged 11 who tragically drowned in a boating accident on the St. Lawrence River in 2018 and is the inspiration for Lifejackets for Life, an initiative to change the law in Canada to make lifejackets/PFDs mandatory for kids in recreational boating.

21% of all unintentional water related fatalities in Canada are recreational boating-related. In 80% of those fatalities a lifejacket or PFD was not worn at the time of the incident (where personal flotation device information was known).

The Act requires parents and guardians to ensure that their children wear a personal flotation device or lifejacket “while on a pleasure boat that is underway or while being towed behind a pleasure boat using recreational water equipment. If the child is not under the supervision of the parent or guardian but is under the supervision of a person who is 18 years of age or older at the relevant time, the requirement applies instead to that person. The requirement does not apply if the child is in an enclosed cabin.”

A pleasure boat is defined as “a ship or boat or any other description of a vessel” which is “used exclusively for pleasure and does not carry passengers on it for remuneration and is “is nine metres in length or shorter.”

The penalty for not complying could result in a fine of not more than $200.

We applaud MPP Goldie Ghamari and all who support this ground-breaking Provincial legislation. If passed, it will undoubtedly save young lives.

To support Joshua’s Law, find your MPP and request their assistance in getting this Act over the finish line.

Change the Law. Save a Life.