The Government of Canada announces new measures for pleasure craft in northern communities

News release

May 14, 2020    Ottawa    Transport Canada

Ottawa — Keeping Canadians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is the Government of Canada’s top priority. Transport Canada is working 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.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, introduced new measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in remote and vulnerable Arctic communities.

  • As of June 1, 2020, pleasure craft will be prohibited from operating within Canada’s Arctic coastal waters (north of the 60th parallel), as well as in the coastal areas of northern Quebec and Labrador.
    • These measures will remain in place until at least October 31, 2020.
    • These restrictions do not apply to pleasure craft used by local communities, or used for purposes such as essential transportation or subsistence fishing, harvesting and hunting.

      These measures are being implemented to better protect Arctic communities:
    • to limit any potential interaction with remote and vulnerable coastal communities in consideration of minimal health care infrastructure; and
    • to allow the Canadian Coast Guard to focus efforts on essential operations including community resupply, ice-breaking, environmental response, and search and rescue efforts.
  • Canadians who want to operate their pleasure craft in non-Arctic coastal waters (south of the 60th parallel), as well as on inland lakes and rivers anywhere in Canada, should follow the guidance of their local health authority.
    • Where boating is allowed, people must continue to take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19, including practising good hygiene and frequent hand washing; and respecting physical distancing advice.
    • Recreational boaters can also wear a non-medical mask or face covering as an additional measure when physical distancing is not possible in public settings.

Transport Canada is calling on Canadian recreational boaters to stay home to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and to follow provincial or territorial guidelines, as well as direction provided by local or regional health authorities.

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.


“Our Government is committed to protecting the health and safety of our Arctic communities, particularly during these challenging times. These new measures add to our efforts to fight COVID-19 and will help limit its transmission. I thank boaters for refraining from operating within Canada’s Arctic coastal waters and doing their part to help protect our remote and vulnerable communities. We are all in this together.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

Quick facts

  • This pleasure craft prohibition applies to Canadian Arctic coastal waters located north of the 60th parallel, which includes the territorial sea surrounding Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast.

    The new prohibition does not apply to:

    • Foreign pleasure craft exercising their right of innocent passage through Canada’s Arctic territorial waters; however, these vessels will be required to notify the Minister of Transport 60 days in advance of arriving in Arctic waters and may be subject to conditions;
    • Canadian pleasure craft being used by local communities, or used for essential transportation, for subsistence fishing, harvesting and hunting, or for exercising Treaty Rights; and
    • Canadian pleasure craft being used on inland lakes and rivers in Canada’s three territories.
  • Transport Canada defines a pleasure craft as a boat, a ship, 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.

  • Those who do not comply with the prohibitions set out in the Interim Order could be subject to a penalty of $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a corporation.

  • Measures highlighted today complement previous announcements made:

Related products


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

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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