Transport Canada and marine stakeholders establish the Seafarers’ Welfare Board 

News release

November 13, 2020         Ottawa                 Transport Canada

 The Government of Canada recognizes the important role seafarers play in moving people and the many goods Canadians rely on every day. Keeping them safe as they work to support Canada’s economy — even during challenging times — is an important priority.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, in collaboration with the Canadian marine community, announced the establishment of the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board.

As part of Canada’s commitment to the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention, the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board will act as a forum for coordinating seafarer welfare in Canada. It will promote maritime workers’ access to recreational, cultural and medical services, as well as shore-based welfare facilities. The Board will also advise the government on policy and regulatory issues such as shore leave and crew changes.

The Board is composed of representatives from labour unions, marine missions located in ports across the country, ship owners, terminals, ports, and agents representing foreign vessel owners in Canada. Transport Canada will act as a Secretariat providing coordination and support for the Board’s meetings and activities.

The Board’s first elected Chairperson is Debbie Murray of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities. She is supported by co-chairs Peter Lahay of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and Dr. Jason Zuidema of the North American Maritime Ministry Association.


“The Government of Canada recognizes the essential role seafarers play in our economy and remains a strong advocate for the safety and welfare of maritime workers. The creation of this new National Seafarers’ Welfare Board, in partnership with Canadian marine industry stakeholders, is an important step in protecting seafarers both at home and abroad.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

“The establishment of the Seafarers’ Welfare Board, facilitated by Transport Canada, will be an important and much-needed mechanism for systematically integrating the ongoing collective efforts of many stakeholders to improve seafarers’ welfare in Canada.”

Debbie Murray
Seafarers’ Welfare Board Chairperson (Association of Canadian Port Authorities)

“Seafarers are essential workers. Having a national, multi-stakeholder forum supported by Transport Canada that is dedicated to improving Seafarers’ welfare, sends clear and positive signals to the mariners I interact with daily that Canadian marine stakeholders care.”

Peter Lahay
Seafarers’ Welfare Board Vice-Chair (International Transport Workers’ Federation)

“Seafarers’ welfare charities are a vital link for visiting mariners and are present in many Canadian ports. These charities work hard to support seafarers’ access to physical, mental and recreational resources. Having a means to formally connect with marine stakeholders through the Welfare Board will enhance those efforts.”

Dr. Jason Zuidema
Seafarers’ Welfare Board Vice-Chair (North American Maritime Ministry Association)

Quick facts

  • Seafarers are responsible for safely operating the vessels that move 80 per cent of the goods Canadians use every day.

  • In recent months, due to COVID-19 measures, many seafarers have faced many additional challenges.

Associated links


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

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Debbie Murray
Chair, Seafarers’ Welfare Board

Peter Lahay
Vice-Chair, Seafarers’ Welfare Board

Dr. Jason Zuidema
Vice-Chair, Seafarers’ Welfare Board

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