Boating Regulations and Safety Tips

All Canadian operators of pleasure craft fitted with any type of motor and used for recreational purposes are required to carry proof of competency, such as the Pleasure Craft Operator (PCO) card.

Proof of competency is not required in the waters of Nunavut and Northwest Territories at this time. Visit the Boating section of the website for more info about regulations and the PCO card.


Additional key boating safety tips include:
  • Check the forecast. Return to shore in bad weather or rough water conditions.
  • Be prepared. Check the condition of your boat and ensure you have sufficient fuel.
  • Don't speed. Drive power boats responsibly.
  • Carry a cell phone or VHF radio.
  • Stay seated. It's easy to fall out of a small boat, canoe or kayak.
  • Obey all signs and buoys - especially around dams and hydroelectric facilities.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

CSBC position statement

The Society is an active participant on the Canadian Safe Boating Council's PFD Taskforce and endorses the CSBC position:

That all operators and passengers be required to wear lifejackets or PFDs when they are in all sizes and types of kayaks, canoes and self-propelled vessels and all other types of craft that are 6 m. or less in length, while passengers are on deck and while the boat is underway.

Learn to Swim

Basic swimming ability is a fundamental requirement in any meaningful attempt to eliminate drowning in Canada. The Lifesaving Society offers training programs from learn-to-swim through advanced lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership.

Our Swim for Life program stresses lots of in-water practice to develop solid swimming strokes and skills. We incorporate valuable Water Smart® education that will last a lifetime.

Swim to Survive is a Lifesaving Society survival training program. Swim to Survive is not a subsititute for swimming lessons; instead, it defines the minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water. People of all ages should be able to perform the Society's Swim to Survive standard.