As North American Safe Boating Awareness Week launches, Minister Garneau reminds boaters to respect COVID-19 safety measures

News release

May 15, 2020    Ottawa    Transport Canada

The May long weekend marks the unofficial start of the boating season in Canada. This year, keeping Canadians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is the Government’s top priority. Recreational boaters will need to respect COVID-19 safety measures this season.

With the launch of North American Safe Boating Awareness Week, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, is calling on boaters to stay home and reminds them that the measures put in place to help limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission also applies to them. The measures include:

  • Following the guidance of their local health authority.
  • Continuing, where boating is allowed, to take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19, including practicing good hygiene and frequent hand washing; and respecting physical distancing advice.
  • When physical distancing is not possible in public settings, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can be useful.

The Government of Canada is also reminding Canadian recreational boaters about the travel restriction between Canada and the United States for non-essential travel (e.g., for tourism, recreation or entertainment) that remain in place until at least May 21, 2020.

In addition, some important reminders to help keep recreational boaters safe on waterways this boating season include:

  • Making sure everyone on board wears an approved lifejacket or personal flotation device that fits properly and is in good condition.
  • Not operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is dangerous and against the law.
  • Carrying proof of competency.
  • Preparing for the unexpected. Do a pre-departure checklist to make sure the boat has fuel, runs well and that all safety equipment is on board, in good condition and easy to reach.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, Transport Canada has worked with the Public Health Agency of Canada, other levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe and secure for all Canadians during this time.


"The Government of Canada remains committed to keeping Canadians safe, particularly during these unprecedented and challenging times. Each year, the launch of the North American Safe Boating Awareness Week is an opportunity to remind all Canadians to put their safety and the safety of their families first, and I know that I can count on recreational boaters to do their part to adhere to safety measures and put into practice the recommendations of local public health authorities to help reduce the spread of COVID-19."

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

Quick facts

  • North American Safe Boating Awareness Week 2020, which takes place from May 16 to 22, 2020, promotes a wide range of safe boating practices to the estimated 12.4 million recreational boaters in Canada.

  • Transport Canada defines a pleasure craft as a boat, a ship, a vessel, or any other water craft that is used exclusively for pleasure and does not carry passengers or goods for payment. Canoes, kayaks, sailboats and motorboats are also included in this definition.

  • According to the Canadian Red Cross, there are an average of 160 water-related fatalities while boating each year. Nearly 90 per cent of boaters who drowned were not wearing, or not properly wearing, a lifejacket.

Associated links


Livia Belcea
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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