PFD mandate floated

by Steve Galea | February 24, 2023
Photo: Jason Bain

Transport Canada (TC) is floating the idea of mandatory compliance of personal flotation devices (PFDs) and life jackets, through regional and national meetings of the Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC).

The CMAC represents member interests in shipping, navigation, and marine pollution concerns and advises the government on issues and opportunities related to marine safety and security.

“Transport Canada regularly reviews its regulations to ensure they remain relevant and achieve their underlying safety objectives,” Senior Communications Advisor Hicham Ayoun said. “Focused work on the issue of mandatory wear began in 2019, given the persistent number of fatalities from the lack or improper use of PFDs/life jackets, which account for almost 90% of recreational boating fatalities in Canada.”

He noted that TC is in the process of consultations regarding options around the mandatory wear of PFDs/life jackets.

TC is presented life jacket and PFD options to the CMAC regarding:

Who must wear them

• Mandatory wearing of a PFD or a life jacket for any person aged 14 years or younger on board a pleasure craft; or
• Mandatory wearing of a PFD or a life jacket for any person aged 18 years or younger on board a pleasure craft.

Vessel size

• Mandatory wearing of a PFD or a life jacket for any person on board any pleasure craft six metres in length and below; or
• Mandatory wearing of a PFD or a life jacket for any person on board any pleasure craft nine metres in length and below.

Type of vessel

• Mandatory wearing of a PFD or a life jacket for any person on board any motorized vessel (i.e. powerboats); or
• Mandatory wearing of a PFD or a life jacket for any person on board any motorized vessel (i.e. powerboats) and human-powered vessels (i.e. canoes, kayaks)

Currently, boaters must have one life jacket on board per person, but they don’t have to be worn.
“After preliminary feedback from safety organizations and enforcement partners is received and analyzed, Transport Canada plans to put these options forward for review and comment from the general public through its Let’s Talk Transportation website:,” Ayoun added.

For more fishing, click here

Click here for more outdoors news

Sign up for our mailing list

indicates required
Email format


  1. Robert Dungey wrote: IF the Data shows that, as you say, "90% of the (water) fatalities are because of the lack of or improper use of PFD's / Life Jackets", then why is there a debate, or review, or forum, or hearing??? Perhaps you just lack something to make the Obvious Decision!!! This is a Safety Issue Or it is not??? Wake up and Enforce it!
  2. Frank Campbell wrote: Life jackets on children to 14 okay. 18 is too old...most of them are strong swimmers. We have a pontoon boat. Very stable and history would show few casualties. Hope the vessel size remains under 6 metres, which most pontoons are larger. 9 metres would be too large for minimum size.
  3. Larry H Rayner wrote: Is OOD Magazine aware of any studies other than the Federal Governments, that prove the wearing of PFD bieng considered mandatory for certain personal vessel sizes, will in fact saves lives?
  4. david cox wrote: i fish out of a 14 ft lund i all way keep a life jaket on board close to me i have 5 levels of swimming i plan to buy a pfd only yellow red or orange those should be the only coulour allowed cause they can be seen at night
  5. Bruce Wilson wrote: I hope that the PDF mandatory wearing is not passed. I strongly disagree with mandatory use of a pdf. What if you are in a row boat and wish to suntan? This thought of making pdf mandatory pdf use in my opinion is wrong & will discourage people from boating activities.
  6. Dave venzon wrote: Yes please put me on your mailing list
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Thank you Dave, we've added you to our bimonthly newsletter.
  7. Dave venzon wrote: Thank you
  8. Neil Woods wrote: I have been a boater for near on 60 years and have never lost or had anyone on board, including my self, on any of my boats go overboard. I have been on all of the lower great lakes and many lakes up north. In some waters with 6 foot waves and storms that you could not see 20 feet. How is it possible for anyone to go overboard? Is it because of stupid people that these rules are made? Should I say it, "maybe the stupid ones should not have been given a boat license or permission to have a boat in the first place". Just my thoughts.
  9. wrote: In resonse to the PFD or LIFE Jackets, I have had two people I knew taken from us , one in a boat and the other in a canoe. Both would have survied had they been wearing a life jacket. It's sad to see a young pregant young widow at her love ones funeral. It is much easier to locate a floating life on top of the water than a corpse sunk to the bottom. I thinks it s only common sense to wear your safety gear and agree with the Transport Canada in looking at making it mandatory on all small vessels powered by motor or human power. It time people woke up. It's to late to get it on after your in the water. Brian Dayman, Brockton Ont.
  10. Herman Baguss wrote: I agree 1000% with Neil Woods. I haven't been boating for 60 Years but darn close, NEVER once was I nor anyone with me ever even close to going over the side.... I've been in 6 foot waves even and we always took care to not go over. In all honesty, the fact that many pfd's are cumbersome (except maybe for the big $$ auto inflatable ones) would cause more mishaps than they cure...
  11. Bill wrote: I totally agree with Neil, been boating on the Great Lakes and northern Ontario for more than 60 years and have not lost person falling overboard ! I see the problem to be with alcohol and boating, but there are laws already for that. Are they going to make everyone at the beach to wear life jackets? I don’t think so!
  12. JEFF ROLOFS wrote: I would not be against mandatory wearing of PFD's in certain situations. Age makes sense ( under 10/12/14 ?). Type/size of vessel. Canoes - we always wear our PFD's while canoe tripping. Each year there are individuals who end up in the water after capsizing a canoe. Most are probably inexperienced. Some where PFD's and others do not. I would not be in objection to mandatory use in Canoes. In comparison, my fishing boat and so many deck/pontoon/pleasure boats become hubs for socializing, relaxing in the sun, swimming, etc. I would absolutely be in objection to a law suggesting "always wear PFD". I will wear my PFD while in transit on a powerboat. This does not include "trolling" as in the heat of the summer it comes off . Other variables such as cold waters, rough water, alone vs not alone will influence decisions of experienced individuals. Regardless of legislation there will always be those who end up at the bottom of a lake due to poor decision making.
  13. mueller, r wrote: This is a choice between the less of two evils. Transport Canada should keep their noses out of mandatory wear of life jackets/PDFs. The government is too controlling of its citizens and there are adequate regulations already on the books to deal with violations. Removing the choice from parents is not what the government's purpose is.
  14. Mike Morrisseau wrote: Good luck for enforcing mandates in Alberta, they choose which laws to obey...
  15. Ken Flinn wrote: Another attempt at an over reach by a government agency. There are thousands of boaters like myself with decades of experience and who are strong swimmers who generally boat on smaller lakes and would strongly feel mandatory regulations would be a serious overstep by the government and infringe on are rights I can see it now I would have to tell the passengers to put on there PFDs so I could take them to the secluded cove and don't take off your PFDs until you go swimming of the boat. Which is a higher risk cruising to the swimming hole or the actual swimming ? When there is a real risk put your PFD on as I do. Use common sense!