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Life Jackets for Life

Boating season has begun in B.C.

It’s a good time to think about boating safety. The long weekend is here, and the province is slated to move into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 Restart Plan. Under Phase 2, restrictions on beaches, outdoor spaces, and recreational activities will be relaxed.

Boating accounts for more than one third of drowning deaths in Canada, and the most common factor associated with those deaths is not wearing a personal flotation device.

Life Jackets for Life is a campaign to keep children safe on Canada’s waterways. It was initiated by Cara McNulty, who lost her 11 year old son Joshua Steinburg in a boating accident. They have advocating to change the law in Canada to require children to wear a life jacket while on small vessels.

I recently wrote to the Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, supporting this call to change the law. My letter is posted below.

Like many Vancouver Islanders, I grew up boating. I worked on boats in my youth and early adulthood. There’s nothing like being out on the water. Improving Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations to keep kids safe means that more Canadian families will have only happy memories of boating.


March 12, 2020

The Honourable Marc Garneau, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Transport

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Garneau,

I was recently contacted by a constituent about a child safety initiative called Life Jackets for Life. An online petition is currently circulating which has been signed by thousands of Canadians.

The Life Jackets for Life campaign was created by Cara McNulty, an Ontario mom who tragically lost her son Joshua Steinburg in a boating accident in 2018. Cara’s goal is to spare other parents the same terrible loss. She has done her research. Voluntary measures and awareness campaigns are effective, but they cannot overcome this problem with boating culture. A change in the law is necessary.

I urge the government to amend Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations and make wearing life jackets mandatory for children on board small vessels. It would be unthinkable to drive a child around in a car without a car seat or seat belt, but it took a change in the law to shift social attitudes around that issue. A similar shift is required in boating culture, and once again the law should drive that shift. Children’s lives depend on it.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.


Paul Manly

Member of Parliament



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