Transport Canada has tabled its response to the House of Commons Petition to Minister Garneau to amend the Small Vessel Regulations. The changes proposed by the petition are to make it mandatory for children under the age of 14 to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket in small vessels covered under the Regulations.
The response shows that progress is being made as result of the advocacy of Life Jackets for Life and other organizations including the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition as well as the many corporate support letters and petition signatures. We thank each and every one of you for your support. Although the amendments being requested are not being made this summer, groundwork is being laid to move this forward. Specific research is scheduled to begin this summer. Transport Canada writes:
TC has tasked a behavioural scientist with conducting a research project on the issue of mandatory wear. The initial part of this project will begin later this summer. Overall, this project is intended to help fill gaps in existing research and data by providing insights on wear rates and justification for wearing or not wearing a PFD/lifejacket. In the future, the project will assess the effectiveness of various types of messaging to promote PFD/lifejacket use among different demographics.
Transport Canada is considering Canada’s vast geography, available enforcement resources, demographics and age groups deemed most at risk, public perceptions towards PFD and lifejacket usage, and international examples “in developing options to require mandatory wear for specific age groups, such as children under a certain age, or during specific activities.”
Transport Canada will begin consulting with Canadians on the options this summer through its Let’s Talk Transportation website, which can be found at letstalktransport.ca. Input received on these options, and the issue of mandatory wear in general, will inform potential regulatory amendments.
Life Jackets for Life will continue its advocacy for mandatory wear for children and to bring awareness to the importance of wearing a PFD. We will provide an update when the specific Let’s Talk Transport conversation is open for comment. In addition, our original Change.org petition will stay open so we can continue to gather support and maintain a communication channel with the signatories.
The full Government response can be found at petitions.ourcommons.ca.