For many years, NMMA has taken a proactive approach to help ensure more people boat safely. In Canada, Boating industry stakeholders probably know that NMMA actively participates in several Transport Canada-led councils aimed at improving and promoting boating safety.
One key body is the National Recreational Boating Advisory Council (NRBAC), which is co-chaired by NMMA Canada president Sara Anghel. As NRBAC has historically been chaired by someone directly from the safety community, Anghel’s leadership sends an important signal that our industry is serious about safety. Anghel has proactively led the entire boating community to come up with sound solutions for boating safety while also keeping in mind the desire to see the industry grow. In addition to NRBAC, there are also regional recreational boating advisory councils (RBAC) in many provinces or regions—NMMA Canada is an active member of the Ontario RBAC. These groups meet each Spring and Fall to discuss issues and ideas for boating safety across the country.
Each Spring and Fall, Transport Canada also hosts a multi-day National Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) meeting which brings both commercial and recreational industry stakeholders together to learn about new regulations or changes being proposed by the department. During CMAC there is a half-day dedicated to recreational boating and proposed changes to regulations or legislation that affect recreational boating stakeholders; NMMA Canada together with the regional Marine Trade Associations attend to represent the boating industry on issues such as new user fees and changes to marine safety and training standards.
On top of our engagement with government, NMMA Canada and Discover Boating have taken the initiative in recent years to expand industry-led boating safety programs. Hands-On Skills Training was launched in 2015 as a three-year program designed to teach boaters at boat shows across the country how to dock and operate a boat. When surveyed, boaters who took Hands-On Skills Training were more than 80% satisfied with the training and said they learned new skills to make them better and safer boaters. We also launched Discover Boating Safety, a free boating safety App available to all Canadians that provides information on necessary safety equipment, rules of the water and monitoring the weather.
We all know 2020 was a year for the record books. At the same time, we all know boating has become a hugely popular family activity during the pandemic—Transport Canada reports an increase of 73% over 2019 of Canadians taking their pleasure craft operator card exams. This means there will be more boaters enjoying our beautiful waterways this coming season.
It is vital the boating community work together to ensure these new boaters have a fun, pleasant and safe experience and stay boating for many years to come. Everyone must do their part: trade associations, dealers selling the boats, and the marinas where the boats are stored. If Canadian waters are filled with new boaters who are not properly educated on boating safely, we all lose. NMMA Canada will continue to work closely with NRBAC, Transport Canada and the enforcement community to ensure boating participation grows and boaters are safe on the water.