Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 10 - Evidence, May 28, 2008


OTTAWA, Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was referred Bill S-221, An Act concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters, met this day at 6:15 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Lise Bacon (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: I would like to thank Senator Oliver for chairing the committee while I was away. I can advise senators that next week we will study Bill C-23. The minister is available to meet us next Tuesday afternoon. Not too many of us are travelling, so we most of us will be here. At the same time, we could deal with the report on containerized freight, dealing with the whole package, the report and the recommendations and whatever documents we have on that. We could also do a total review of the documents that we already have on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we will meet again, and I will let you know the time. The time can change next week, as it is not a normal timetable. We will see what we can do.

On Bill C-23, you have all received a letter from the groups that are backing this bill. At the moment, no one has asked to appear before us. We will see what happens next after we meet with the minister and the officers of the department on Tuesday, so that is why I left Wednesday open.

I would remind members that our next subject of study will be on communications and broadcasting, and we are open to suggestions. I have already sent you a note on that, or distributed a note to you in one of our meetings. If you have any suggestions to make, please do so. If we could table terms of reference before we leave then we could ask people to work on that during the summer months and deal with the study when we come back in the fall. That would save time for us and help with the budget as it takes a few days to do that.

We are pleased to have representatives of Transport Canada finally appearing before us. We have William Nash, Director General, Marine Safety, Transport Canada and Victor M. Santos-Pedro, Director, Design, Equipment and Boating Safety, Transport Canada. Welcome to our meeting. We will hear from you first, and then I am sure senators will have some questions to ask you.

William (Bill) Nash, Director General, Marine Safety, Transport Canada: Thank you, Madam Chair. It is a pleasure to appear before you this evening to describe the current regime restricting vessel operations in Canadian waters and offer some comments regarding the bill. We hope that you will find the presentation helpful in clarifying the existing regulatory process and outlining the recent developments in addressing concerns related to the safe operation of personal watercraft and other craft.

The Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations were formerly known as the Boating Restriction Regulations and, as of April 2008, are in force. These regulations can be used to restrict the operation of a class or type of vessel, including personal watercraft, where it has been identified by local municipalities that a restriction is warranted. Restrictions can be based on safety or environmental concerns or be in the public interest, which is a change from basing restrictions on safety concerns alone.

In December 2006, the department communicated this enhanced regulatory flexibility to provincial governments and included background information detailing the application process. At about the same time, officials at Transport Canada's regional offices were also fully apprised of this policy and were tasked with assisting proponents with applications.

We have developed new procedures that will permit the processing of applications for vessel restrictions on a regular basis once a year. These new procedures would see completed applications received by the Office of Boating Safety in headquarters on or before September 15 and be in force for the following boating season.

In February of this year, the Office of Boating Safety held a three-day workshop for regional managers and staff. This workshop focused on building a national consistent approach in the administration of the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations in accordance with the government's goal in streamlining regulations. A significant emphasis was given to the issue of accepting applications that identify a specific class or type of vessel. Building on this internal process, the department is developing a national policy and training manual to ensure that regional Office of Boating Safety staff have the tools they need to assist applicants in achieving the best results. The department is also in the process of revising the local authority guide.

In addition, the VORR provide for the establishment of restrictions for specified areas; mode of propulsion used; limitations on maximum engine power or speed; prohibitions on recreational towing activities, for example, water skiing; specify areas in which a permit is required in order to hold a sporting or recreational event; and can be used to specify shoreline-based speed restrictions.

Many provinces, such as Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, currently have universal shoreline speed restrictions in effect that limit vessel speed to 10 kilometres per hour within 30 metres of the shore. Under these regulations, municipalities are responsible for enforcement of the restrictions. Other regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, also work toward promoting a safer marine environment for boaters. These include the Small Vessel Regulations, which make it an offence to operate a vessel in a careless manner and, of course, the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations that will require all operators of power driven pleasure craft to obtain proof of competency by September 2009. This is a current requirement for operators born after April 1, 1983, and for all pleasure craft less than 4 metres in length.

However, I would like to point out that, since 1999, operators of personal watercraft must be 16 years or older. Failure to comply with regulations is a ticketable offence in many provinces under the Contraventions Act and is enforced by local police agencies. To further address concerns related to the safe operation of personal watercraft, the Office of Boating Safety has posted updated guidelines entitled ``Safety Rules and Tips For Personal Watercraft Use,'' which are available on the department's web site.

I hope that this has provided clarification with respect to the regulatory requirements and safety measures in place for vessels. I would like now to discuss some potential impacts of the alternative regulatory process identified in the bill.

Bill S-221 proposes that applications for restrictions on the use of personal watercraft alone be made directly to the minister by local authorities without requiring municipal or provincial government involvement. The committee might want to consider the views of the provinces such as Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, which actively participate in the administration of the existing application process related to the regulations.

The definition of ``local authorities'' allows for non-elected and non-representative groups, such as cottage associations, to regulate waterways under federal jurisdiction. As mentioned earlier, one of the government goals in streamlining regulations is to ensure that the principles of fairness and good governance are followed. Therefore, the committee might wish to discuss this issue in greater detail. In particular, the cabinet directive on streamlining regulations requires examination of non-regulatory alternatives to resolving waterway conflicts and a broad consultative process with all interested parties. This would not be the case in the new process suggested under Bill S- 221.

The current process allows local municipalities to administer the consultation process and coordination of enforcement. These tasks are well-suited for municipal or provincial levels of government. However, a private organization's capacity to shoulder the administrative and enforcement process might be difficult to accomplish.

The bill places a reverse onus on the minister who must justify why a regulation was not made instead of requiring the local authority to justify regulatory intervention. This essentially sub-delegates the federal regulation-making power over navigation as stipulated in the Constitution Act, 1867, to local authorities that have no federal accountability.

As mentioned earlier, we have established a new regulatory procedure to process applications for restrictions in one package on an annual basis. The bill would require publication in Part I of the Canada Gazette within 60 days of receipt of each application, thus requiring individual submissions that would bypass any economical efficiencies and would create a heavy workload in administering the process required by the bill at all levels of government.

I would also bring to your attention the fact that this bill addresses only personal watercraft and does not address issues regarding other vessels that may raise similar concern, such as ballast boats used for generating high wake and wash for wake-boarding. It is important to consider the ever-growing number and diversity of recreational boats operating on Canadian waterways and that regulations have the flexibility to address broad-based concerns. Therefore, the committee might wish to consider whether the Vessel Operating Restrictions Regulations can appropriately deal with all kinds of vessel restrictions.

Thank you, honourable senators, for this opportunity to appear and to provide these comments on behalf of Transport Canada.

The Chair: Mr. Nash, it seems that the recent changes in the regulations as explained in your presentation address Senator Spivak's concerns. Would you say that Bill S-221 is redundant?

Mr. Nash: Madam Chair, I would say that the Vessel Operating Restriction Regulations have processes in place that cover most, if not all, restrictions required for all types of vessels.

The Chair: How much time would it take for a city to restrict the use of personal watercraft on a lake or in a bay?

Mr. Nash: There is a process outlined in our local authorities guide that follows the directive of streamlining regulations in the requirements. It specifies a process which ensures that there is a need to have a regulation, that there is a risk there, that it is justifiable and that restrictions can be enforceable. Consultation is undertaken with all parties. It can take some time for municipalities to do this; it may take several months, if not longer. Once that process has been finished, it can be referred to the provincial level and on to ourselves. Our job becomes a job of verifying that the process was followed. We then will enter it into our system for processing.

I have indicated in my speech that we now have a process in place where we are ``batching'' — for lack of a better word — restriction applications that we receive so that we can process them in a timely fashion for the next season. In theory, if an association or a municipality would enter into consultations, follow the process through the summer and we receive the application by the fall, it would be in place by the following spring or boating season.

The Chair: Would you consider amending the regulation of the local authority definition to include cottage associations?

Mr. Nash: Within the process that we have, cottage associations have the ability to go to the local municipalities to express concerns. They then enter into the process that I have just mentioned. Other people who may have a concern for restriction may do so also.

The Chair: Is this bill elitist in allowing wealthy cottage owners a means of preventing ordinary citizens from using navigable waters?

Mr. Nash: I am not sure. Perhaps my colleague —

Victor M. Santos-Pedro, Director, Design, Equipment and Boating Safety, Transport Canada: I am not sure —

The Chair: That is why we wanted you here: To answer our questions.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: I will try to understand your question correctly. The cottage associations would have the opportunity to organize themselves and to start following a process in which the consultations are carried out. The consultations have to be broad.

The reason it is important for the local municipalities to be involved is that then there is an enforcement aspect to it. The enforcement aspect comes into it. If the restriction includes putting up signs, who will maintain those signs? Therefore, often the municipalities are in a better position to do both maintenance and enforcement.

Can it prevent citizens from using waterways? It can, but it is only after there is broad consultation. The cabinet directive allows us to ask: Before you start talking about putting a restriction in place, can you find a local solution? Is there an alternative that can be accomplished by an arrangement of the cottage association; by an arrangement with the municipality; by an arrangement that is a local-made solution? That is the best alternative.

Senator Oliver: Before I ask my questions, I would like to have an explanation from you of some of the words that you have used. You say one of the criticisms of the bill you want to bring to our attention is that it only addresses personal watercraft. You go on to say that it does not raise the issues of ballast boats used for generating high wake and wash for wake-boarding. What is wake-boarding?

Mr. Nash: Wake-boarding is where you have a boat that generates waves, and people wake-board across this wake.

Senator Dawson: It is the equivalent to water skiing that snow-boarding is to skiing. It would be the ``other'' wave thing.

Senator Oliver: You say that the definition of personal watercraft will not cover those types of problems?

Mr. Nash: Yes, sir.

Senator Oliver: The government passed regulations that we looked at during our last meeting in April, and you have referred to them throughout your presentation today. Is there anything and any concerns raised in Bill S-221 that is before us today that are not directly covered by the regulations that were in the Canada Gazette of April of this year? If so, what are they and can we deal with them now?

Mr. Nash: One concern is that, in the Vessel Operating Restriction Regulations, a restriction can be made for safety, environmental and public interest. I think the bill mentions health, as well.

Senator Oliver: Are there any others?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: I do not think so.

Senator Oliver: This bill has been around for seven years. A lot has changed in seven years. The new regulations that came out last April cover off most of the safety and other concerns raised by Bill S-221. Am I correct?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: Yes, sir.

Senator Zimmer: Gentlemen, thank you for your appearance and presentation. I have a couple of questions about the boats themselves.

How are personal watercraft different from power boats as a nuisance or a safety concern on navigable waters?

Mr. Nash: I will attempt to answer your question and Mr. Santos-Pedro could add to it.

Personal watercraft are capable of high-speed operation. They can turn quickly and do so-called ``doughnuts'' and things like that in the water. Other craft do have the capability to do similar things, if you will. That is one of the reasons that the Vessel Operating Restriction Regulations can apply to all vessels. For example, if there were a problem with wave size created by vessels in a certain area — or personal watercraft — the Vessel Operating Restriction Regulations could be specific if personal watercraft were the ones in the area, or they could cover all vessels that are capable of causing that particular problem in the area.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: The only thing out there that has a difference sometimes is the noise level. Over the years, one of the things that has happened and evolved is the fact that vessel noise has been greatly attenuated by better engines. The noise would also be a difference, but it is more about its use, if the boat is being used aggressively. If it is not being used aggressively, it looks like any other boat.

Senator Zimmer: Then it is somewhat more in the operator of the craft than the craft itself. That leads into my next question. Can you give any details on the extent of the harm to humans — injury or death — or to the environment — noise pollution, shoreline erosion or harm to fish or fowl — that has occurred from the operation of personal watercraft?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: There are no statistics. The difficulty is that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which is the agency that investigates marine accidents, does not include pleasure craft unless there are some extenuating circumstances. If the accident also involves a commercial vessel or if there are a number of deaths, then the Transportation Safety Board would deem to investigate. We have that difficulty of collecting statistics, although we ourselves continue to attempt to try, through coroners' offices. We have started to gather statistics through that means, but it is not easy because it is province by province, and there is no national database for that kind of statistic. Therefore, it is very difficult to answer your question.

Senator Zimmer: The best thing to resort to is empirical evidence, which you are not gathering right now.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: That is correct.

Senator Zimmer: Some opponents of this bill have argued that it is the untrained drivers, not the machines, that cause the problems. Is education a better and less intrusive method of addressing the problems associated with these crafts?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: As part of our outreach program, the education aspect is very important. We have developed a specific publication to address the safety of personal watercraft. It is reflected in the regulations, specifically that personal watercraft have a restriction that only 16-year-olds and over are allowed to operate such watercraft.

In the Transport Canada boating safety program we have put great emphasis on education for all types of vessels, including personal watercraft. We agree that the education of the operator — the operator knowing the rules of the road and reducing the aggressive manner in which they might use the machine — is the most effective way.

Senator Mercer: I am concerned about a couple of things with respect to this bill. I am from Nova Scotia. The province has just this summer increased the distance from the shore where you must slow down. That is probably a good thing.

I live on a lake, in a village with six or eight local associations, depending on how big you count the community, and we are all governed by such associations. I live on the lake permanently. There are about 17 of us who do so, and there are probably about 200 when you add in all the cottagers. We seem to do quite well.

My concern is that you get one lake here and another not too far away where the regulations are different because of the preference of the associations. The squeaky wheel gets the grease; we know that. Sometimes if someone puts forward enough complaints, they will get a regulation put in when there is no really democratic process of surveying all the users of the lake on whether they want personal watercraft regulated to the extent that this bill may allow.

Do you share the concern that there is no consistency of what might be imposed by this bill from one waterway to another when there are waterways almost next to each other?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: It is less whether we share the concern than the fact that the cabinet directive on streamlining regulations is what we follow. The cabinet directive, making sure that you have explored all the alternatives, is what we can facilitate with any particular local association. If there are no other alternatives and you do go towards the regulatory one, then the cabinet directive leads us to broad consultation. That becomes the issue: Is the consultation broad enough? It becomes an issue if you have some parallel process in which that kind of broad consultation is not necessarily followed.

Senator Mercer: It seems to me that the intent of this bill, while well-meaning, may be a bit out of date because of what regulations have caught up to it. Personal watercraft on the waterway in front of my house are a lot different today than they were five years ago, in terms of the noise level in particular, and the fumes spilling out the back of them. These things have changed dramatically.

In reality, it depends on the operator whether I find it annoying at all. If it is a respectful person, then I will not be annoyed with them. If they are going by at six o'clock in the morning, I may be annoyed. It seems to me that we may have missed the boat — pardon the pun — by a few years on this issue because we now seem to be behind the curve.

On the regulations, you mentioned the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. The majority of the provinces currently have universal shoreline speed restrictions. What about the provinces that are missing from that list? There is one very large province missing, the province of Quebec, which has quite a few waterways. How are they regulated?

We have 10-kilometre-per-hour speed limit within 30 metres of shore in my province, but what do they do in those provinces that are not regulated by such a restriction, such as New Brunswick and Quebec?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: There is more of a patchwork approach. In the cases where you have a province-wide restriction for not more than 10 kilometres for 30 metres, for example, which is a very common type of restriction, it is the province that has taken the initiative to have that kind of restriction.

In Quebec, there has not been that province-wide initiative. However, we have over 2,000 restrictions across the country which are in the schedules and many of them are in Quebec. I could not give you the exact figure, but it is more, as you had earlier mentioned, that you end up with a variety of different restrictions. Having the variety of restrictions also gives the flexibility to tailor it to a particular situation in an area.

Senator Comeau: First, I would like to ask you whether Senator Spivak has discussed her concerns with Transport Canada as to whether there was a means of allaying her concerns. Has she discussed that with you prior to introducing this bill?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: Because this bill has come before the Senate several times, there have been at various times along the way, in which indeed we —

Senator Comeau: I am not interested in previous activities. We are dealing with the current bill today. Forget all the bills that have been introduced in the past, bills that have either died through prorogation or elections. We are dealing with the current bill. Has she approached you with respect to the current bill?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: I misunderstood the question. I apologize.

Senator Comeau: No problem.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: There has been communication from Senator Spivak asking questions, and they have been responded to through channels. However, I do not believe there have been any direct discussions with respect to this particular bill.

Senator Comeau: I listened carefully when she reintroduced the bill in the Senate the last time around, and her raison d'être for reintroducing it was that she had introduced it a number of times in the past. That does not satisfy me. Whether or not she has introduced it a number of times in the past is irrelevant; it is past history. However, that is another point.

Do we need this bill? Is there anything in the current regulations or legislation that says we absolutely need this bill in order to allay her concerns? I would like your professional opinion on that.

Mr. Nash: I will reiterate what I have indicated in my speech, that the Vessel Operating Restriction Regulations have a means to cover a wide variety of restrictions for all types of vessels in Canadian navigable waters.

Senator Comeau: Let us say I have a cottage on a lake, and we cottage owners do not like the fact that there are a bunch of yahoos who drive around with high-speed watercraft; they are annoying the heck out of us, the local municipality does not want to deal with it, so we set up a local authority.

Is that the type of problem this bill would alleviate, whereby other concerns would be alleviated through the municipality? Am I reading this correctly?

Mr. Nash: Yes.

Senator Comeau: We then wind up with a non-elected and non-representative group of individuals suddenly able to bypass the current system and go directly to the Canada Gazette, possibly, or to the minister and say ``Fix our problem; we are unhappy here.'' To me, the terms ``non-elected'' and ``non-representative'' almost sound like the Senate.

Is this what we would be creating, a non-elected and non-accountable group being able to bypass the system?

Mr. Nash: Yes. They would go to the minister, and the minister has an obligation to act.

Senator Comeau: The minister must respond because there is reverse onus. Rather than the cottage dwellers having to deal with a concern, the minister deals with it. Is that right?

Mr. Nash: Yes.

Senator Comeau: You have not given an assessment on the cost of implementation of this bill, and there are always costs for implementation. I did notice, however, that there were some costs referred to in your report. Have you any estimate on yearly costs, or could we obtain them if we asked for them?

Mr. Nash: You could get them if you wished to ask.

Senator Comeau: That would be very important for the Senate to know, if intending to vote on this bill, as non- elected and non-responsive as we are supposed to be. We must be responsible, so it is incumbent on us as senators to know how much it will cost the taxpayer.

Finally, I am looking for your professional advice on a couple of things. The Department of Transport has, as far as I know, officials all over the country who visit the regions in virtually every province and every community in the country. Have any of your officials come back to you and said that the system is not working; we therefore need a Senator Spivak-type bill to fix the problems? Have you heard anything like that from your many contacts?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: The short answer is no.

Senator Comeau: I am one of the few individuals who know that Canadian civil service officials are often maligned. I do not agree with the concept of the civil service being unresponsive. I think they should be responsive because they have contacts all over the country.

I would suggest that you are probably as well plugged in as many representatives here in Ottawa because you have access to these thousands of individuals across the country. Again, you have not had any of these individuals telling you they are experiencing problems?

Mr. Nash: I am not aware of any.

Senator Comeau: Therefore, Senator Spivak somehow picked up on something that your thousands of representatives all over the country were not able to pick up on, and she proposed a bill to the Senate that has now been accepted in principle and is at committee stage, fairly soon to be given clause-by-clause consideration. We are quite far into the process, so it is kind of worrying that we have reached this stage without ever having problems related to you by your staff. I have certainly not picked up on any problems in my area.

One last question: You noted in your document that the committee may want to consider the views of the provinces such as Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. What do you mean by that?

Mr. Nash: We mean that they are presently involved in our process.

Senator Comeau: Therefore, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta could theoretically be upset if we were to throw this into the hopper? I know you cannot speak for those provinces, but I also know you have to deal with them on a regular basis. Could it be possible that if and when the Senate passes this bill through, suddenly we might find ourselves with an angry Minister of Transport in Quebec?

Mr. Nash: In our speaking points, we suggested drawing this to the attention of the committee.

Senator Comeau: You are being too kind. Thank you very much.

Senator Merchant: Can you tell us how many licensed recreational vessels there are in Canada? Do you have any idea?

Mr. Nash: I believe it is almost 3 million.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: Over 2 million.

Senator Merchant: How many of these are for personal watercraft? I want to see the numbers.

Mr. Nash: I do not have that number.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: No, we do not have that figure.

Senator Merchant: Senator Spivak says 3 million.

Senator Spivak: Two million to 3 million.

Senator Merchant: Is that correct?

Senator Dawson: Two to three. If it is not money, it is not important.

Senator Merchant: Do you have —

Senator Spivak: The last figures were before this year.

Senator Merchant: Could you tell us, for comparison's sake, how many fatalities are caused by personal watercraft as compared to other recreational water vehicles? Are there more fatalities and more accidents with personal watercraft?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: Unfortunately, we do not have that data. The data that we often have, through the Red Cross, deals with drownings. That kind of data, as I explained, is not collected at present. Therefore, we do not have evidence that personal watercraft would generate any more fatalities than any other vessel.

Senator Merchant: With respect to competency, you spoke about proof of competency. What do you mean by that? Does everyone over 16 have to have a licence?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: The specific restriction for personal watercraft is that no person under the age of 16 is allowed to operate one.

Senator Merchant: How do you judge competency? When I learned to drive a car, I took a course and had to pass a written test and a road test.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: There is a similar provision such that an operator's competency card is required when you operate a motorized boat.

Senator Merchant: Who administers that competency test?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: There are a number of accredited course providers across the country that administer the test.

Senator Merchant: Are they the same people who sell watercraft? I have a friend in Regina who sells boats and you can buy the licence directly from his shop.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: Is it the licence for the vessel or the operator card?

Senator Merchant: It is for the person.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: It is the operator card. He must be one of the accredited course providers.

Senator Merchant: Can you tell me the age group of the people who drive these watercraft? Are they all young people?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: We do not have that information.

Senator Merchant: Do families go out with their children, or are such craft generally operated by young people?

Mr. Nash: I have seen young people, older people and people with children on these watercraft.

Senator Merchant: How many people do these watercraft hold?

Mr. Nash: Generally, they hold two people, although there are some bigger ones on the market.

Senator Merchant: If they are pulling a skier, there have to be three people.

Mr. Nash: There is a requirement to be able to watch what is being towed.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: They are not normally used for water skiing.

Senator Merchant: I do not have a cottage so I do not know much about these things.

Senator Dawson: I will address my comments in English, Senator Spivak. I want to join my friend Senator Comeau in his comments. The rules we have today are probably because, for the last number of years that you have been debating this issue, you have put the Department of Transport in an obligation to act; I congratulate you.

That being said, I reviewed the rules and regulations on the Internet site. I rent a cottage on a lake where three municipalities have the responsibility of ``governing what happens on the lake.'' I went to see them and they said that the progress over the last four or five years leading to their delegated authority backed by the support of Transport Canada is tremendous. Between your first speech and today, a great deal has happened. I would say that the bill probably did not progress as fast as the regulations within the department.

I have had a 17-foot boat for 15 years. Initially, the only small craft around were run by 17-year-old kids doing doughnuts, but today there are jet boats that can sit four people. They are a foot shorter than my boat. There is a little article here that says the definition of ``personal watercraft'' can be ambiguous. Legislators do not like to have ambiguous legislation so I feel comfortable saying that their regulations are ambiguous. They apply to my boat as well as to the one that is one foot shorter, and they are as severe for him as they are for me.

I am serious when I say that progress has been made. As a Quebecer, and more or less as a nationalist Quebecer, I would be offended that the federal government would start giving people authority on my lake to take decisions based on a regulation that you had imposed on them through legislation. I could never support that type of situation because I believe that the provinces are cooperating fully with the department. They needed the pressure that you put on them, and I congratulate you. However, I would not want to kill all the progress that has been made by creating confusion. I could decide that I am joining with 15 people on my lake to say that we do not like what the municipal authorities are saying, and we will complain. It is too ambiguous, and I cannot support that situation.

I iterate that I probably would have had a different comment four or five years ago but the pressure you applied by being persistent forced the manufacturers to evolve. Personal watercraft are not as noisy as they used to be. As well, an operator must be 16 years of age or older and, if born after 1983, needs to have a licence. I passed my test and have the operator's card. I have to admit, though, that the test is a little too easy. That being said, if you want to get the card, do the test now because, after this, it will be more difficult.

The reality, Senator Spivak, is that you have attained your objective. Passing the bill might create problems for the same people that you are trying to help.

Senator Eyton: You are here to describe the current regime that restricts vessel operations in Canada, in particular, with reference to the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations.

I suppose that you are trying to put Bill S-221 in context, and either the need or the usefulness of the bill. I echo what Senator Comeau said earlier. Given the new regulations, recently arrived, due in large part to Senator Spivak, is Bill S-221 necessary or even useful? Senator Comeau phrased it that way but I am trying to elicit a more precise response.

Mr. Nash: From my perspective, the new regulations are quite encompassing and fulfill the restriction requirements that would arise on navigable waters in Canada and cover all kinds of vessel, including commercial vessels that we had not mentioned before.

Senator Eyton: It is my understanding that Bill S-221 had an addendum or additional coverage for cottage associations and informal groupings of people, who presumably are not caught up in the current restrictions that you describe. Is that correct?

Mr. Nash: I did not quite —

Senator Eyton: Senator Spivak's Bill S-221 refers to one body that may start the process and get certain rulings and protections, such as cottage owners' associations. As I understand it, the regulations refer to municipalities and other formally constituted groups. Cottage owners' associations are necessarily informal and voluntary, where people come together. I take it your regulations do not apply to that kind of association?

Mr. Nash: There is nothing in either the regulation or the process that would prevent an association from bringing something forward to a municipality and from following the process.

Senator Eyton: Working through the municipality, as opposed to working directly, may be the most significant difference between Bill S-221 and the bodies that it covers and your regulations?

I received in my office and thumbed through a thick brochure that purported to inform me about your regulations. The subject is complicated, and you must deal with many situations, many boats and vessels, but it struck me that this brochure would be incomprehensible to most people. I am not sure how you instruct the people who work with you on staff and otherwise, but any book that is three inches thick is equivalent to not giving the public any information at all. However, I recognize it is there and, if someone is brilliant enough and had enough time, the correct place could be found to give one the correct understanding about the regulations.

It is in that context that I wondered whether a more focused bill might be able to provide a contribution to its clarity. People at a dock or at lakeside will neither read nor understand a three-inch brochure packed with this type of information. Their tolerance might be 10 or 12 pages of information that should be easily and readily conveyed. The material I saw was not any of that. In that context, could Bill S-221 make a unique contribution? If you did not think it could, is there any way in which you could engage a writer to take all those regulations, the provisions and so on, and put them into manageable forms that are intelligible?

I am co-chair of the committee that scrutinizes all regulations. We have an abiding form in regulations, many of which are thorough and professional and not incomprehensible to most people. I am trying to understand whether Bill S-221 could be more useful if it were more focused. I know you are not here to be scrutinized; you are here to talk about Bill S-221. However, is there any way in which your regulations could be made more comprehensible?

Mr. Nash: You are correct, senator, that it would be a simplified process in a sense that a cottage association would make the application directly to the minister and then the process would start quickly thereafter.

As mentioned earlier, this alternative process would not have the benefit of following the cabinet directive of streamlining regulations, or even creating a regulation in the first place by following what might be a complex document or a guide. The process does ensure consistency and that there is a requirement that is justifiable. If no alternative method is available than making that restriction, then it is enforceable. Is there a way that this could be made somewhat clearer? I am sure anything can be improved upon, sir.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: You are referring to the regulation itself, which is quite comprehensive. The specific part dealing with the restrictions is not that long. We are in the hands of the drafting lawyers when we go to the regulations as to how much plain language can end up in them.

What I am holding here is the local authorities' guide to boating restriction regulations, which is an attempt at explaining how to navigate the regulations. Although there are 23 pages in here, the majority of the pages are an explanation or a clarification of the cabinet directive on the regulatory process that talks about the consultation aspect of the process, which is the most onerous, but that is what we must do for every regulation.

It is this part of the regulation-making process that we are trying to explain here in the easiest possible way and in plain language, whereas the actual regulations themselves are thick because they contain the schedules with 2,000 restrictions. Once we receive a completed application, it is a straightforward process, but there is still the normal regulatory process of having it stamped and reviewed by the lawyers. The whole process then ends up in cabinet, and so on. While we take the point that we could always improve the regulations and, in particular, the plain language aspect of any regulation, we have attempted to do that with this explanatory guide.

Senator Eyton: It is nice to hear that there is a guide. I did not know that. More of that would be very useful, I think.

Senator Merchant: I do not know who has given us this information but there is a national boating fatalities report here. There are statistics contained in this report. Perhaps this is from our next witness. It does not take into account the changes that have been made since September 2002, but there are numbers here which indicate that fatalities and boating deaths in Canada have decreased each year for the last five years. There are 11 deaths per year per 100,000 PWCs, as compared to six deaths per year for boats per 100,000. Maybe you would be interested in this because you said you did not have statistics, yet these people seem to have them.

The Chair: We can deal with that with our next witness.

Senator Spivak: I hope I may be permitted to make a few comments before asking my question.

To begin with, I would like to congratulate the Transport Canada officials. After seven years, last April, it is finally possible to restrict the operations of a personal watercraft and the local authorities guide changed its language from saying that ``not any one specific boat can be prohibited'' to ``every boat could be prohibited,'' including a PWC. That is a huge change. Prior to that, you could not do that. That was one of the reasons for the bill, because no senator or member of Parliament can amend the regulations.

The other thing I want to say to Transport Canada officials is that, in the United States, statistics are compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard. Those show quite a difference in the fatalities and injuries, which are mostly blunt trauma injuries, between ordinary boats and PWCs. In Canada, the Lifesaving Society also shows that. It is very easy for you to get those figures. I would suggest you might do that in case you are asked any other questions. A Health Canada survey of emergency hospitals shows the same thing — a higher rate of injuries for PWCs: again, blunt trauma.

I find the idea that I would put forward a bill without having any reason for doing so a little odd. When I first began this process, we consulted all across the country, with every provincial government, most municipalities, many cottage associations, and thousands of people wrote to me. Almost every province and municipality was in favour of this action.

Let me explain that a local authority, such as a cottage association in the bill, would have to be approved by the minister, and they would need to have the broadest consultations. Frankly, I do not think that labelling cottage associations as non-representative and non-elected is a way to get votes. You could go across the country campaigning on that, but I do not think you would get a lot of votes. Many cottage associations are elected, and most of them are very responsible. They live in the area and, according to the bill, they would need to have the broadest consultations, probably with municipalities.

I will not comment on whether the bill is still relevant. That is for the committee to decide. I am extremely pleased that we now have regulations which have some common sense because, before that, they excluded the most dangerous kind of recreation vessel from the regulations.

Your officials appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on June 21, 2005. Mr. Santos-Pedro was there, but you were not, Mr. Nash. You made a whole bunch of promises. For example, you said you would amend the Boating Restriction Regulations, and now the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations by adding a schedule that would require PWC drivers, and presumably others, to proceed in a straight line perpendicular to shore for 200 metres. However, that 200 metres is not in your schedule. You also said that the guidelines would be based on the U.S. model act, which is quite a good act. What were your consultations on that proposal, and would restrictions of a nature such as a 200 metre offshore limit on wake jumps, et cetera, be considered in a schedule?

Before you answer that question, I did forget one thing. During the course of this bill, I met many times with the minister's staff. I talked to them. I tried to meet with the minister, but the minister is kind of busy. I did not meet with the minister, but I met with the minister's staff. I did not meet with these people, because I thought that was a higher authority. I wanted to tell you that.

Could you look at that question? What about the things that are missing from the PWC guidelines, which were supposed to be based, as you promised, on the U.S. model act?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: I will start with that question. As I recall, we did make some promises, yes, and we have, I believe, fulfilled all of them, although it has certainly taken more time than we anticipated. What we had discussed at that time was that we would consider using that U.S. model bill as a basis for guidelines, and that is what we have included, or part of that. If there are parts of that that you believe are not included, then we will review those guidelines, because we can do that very easily.

Senator Spivak: What about the 200 metres?

Mr. Santos-Pedro: That is the second issue. On the way to considering how we would be able to add a schedule of such a nature, we had extensive — and I do mean extensive — consultations. At one point, I can tell you it was the only time I have been in a room with seven lawyers. The advice we got at the end of day is that that was not the best way, to proceed with the 200 metres, to create that kind of schedule. As part of that kind of internal consultation with the lawyers, indeed there was the change with regard to types of vessels to all types of vessels, including personal watercraft, and possibly if there is justification, just for personal watercraft. It was a comprehensive and broad consultation with the legal advice that we ended up getting.

Senator Spivak: I have two other questions. One is about the time it takes to process an application. At the time I started this in my own lake area, it could take as long as four years, and at any point some bureaucrat — no offence, and bureaucrat is not a pejorative term, but he or she is not an elected person and probably not representative — could say, ``sorry,'' and it happened. I can give you examples at Falcon Lake. Given the way you are operating it, how will you reduce the wait times?

Second, on the issue of naming a vessel, how will you ensure that your people in the field understand what is going on? Just a little while ago it was said that our legal advice was that you cannot do that, and it will be challenged.

Mr. Santos-Pedro: As Mr. Nash indicated, and as I am very glad to report, we do not have a backlog on proposed vessel restrictions. Within the next few weeks there will be a Part I publication of the latest set of amendments, which is, I could say in comparison, a handful.

You are right that there were considerable delays in the past. No doubt as part of your representation, we are now able to eliminate a backlog and we have a process in place by which we will have all of the applications that I received by the fall in place by the spring. From a process perspective, we are up to date.

On the second point, as far as consistency is concerned — and part of it indeed arises from your representation, senator — we have availed ourselves, first, of all means to pass the message on; to try and have consistency across the country. We enhanced that by having a workshop with everyone across the country and with the people in headquarters who deal with the regulatory process so that the people in the field who are facilitating that kind of application are better aware of the needs of the regulatory process.

As a result of that, we will be further updating the local authorities' guide. It has not been updated since that workshop was carried out.

Senator Spivak: I am glad to hear that. People were so frustrated with this issue that they just sold their cottages or moved. If you could get that information out to cottage associations or whatever, it would be very helpful.

I have one last question regarding enforcement. As far as I understood it, the enforcement is done by the local police or the local Coast Guard, so it does not matter whether it is local authority or your regulations. I mean, cottage associations are not mandated to do enforcement. That is a question for the local police. Therefore, I do not understand the suggestion that perhaps cottage associations would have to enforce things.

I have one more question. Whatever the costs of enforcement and administration are, they are already there. If you will have more costs, it is to be hoped that it is because you are giving a better service to people. What is your view on that?

Mr. Nash: Maybe I could deal with the enforcement aspect first. In the process that we have — linked again to the federal regulatory streamlining requirements for regulations — the municipalities, in making their applications, also confirm that they will enforce the restriction.

Senator Spivak: As they do now.

Mr. Nash: Yes. What is not clear, in the parallel system, is whether or not the municipality would be on side and actually direct the police to enforce.

Senator Spivak: Unless the local authorities do not consult with the municipalities, which I doubt would ever happen.

Mr. Nash: It is possible with respect to financing. We believe there would be a cost linked to processing individual requests because they would be individual requests as written.

Also, the time frames that are in the bill itself would be quite difficult and onerous for us to meet at all levels. There would definitely be a cost. I am not totally sure what that would be at this time.

Senator Spivak: Thank you, Madam Chair, for the time, and thank you to the witnesses. Again, I congratulate you.

The Chair: I wish to thank you again for your presence here. We appreciate it very much. It was important for us to hear from you both.

Our next witness is Ms. Sara Anghel, Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs, National Marine Manufacturers Association. Thank you for your presence here. We are looking forward to hearing from and having an exchange with you on our questioning.

Sara Anghel, Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs, National Marine Manufacturers Association: Good evening honourable senators, members of the committee, I represent the National Marine Manufacturers Association of Canada, also known as NMMA Canada. NMMA is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. National Marine Manufacturers Association member companies produce more than 80 per cent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters in North America.

The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs and public policy, market research and data, product quality assurance and marketing communications. We represent 110 members in Canada and another 1,600 members in the United States.

I am here this evening to speak about Bill S-221, An Act concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters. It the opinion of NMMA Canada that Bill S-221 is redundant legislation and duplicates existing regulatory frameworks.

First, I would like to provide some context. The recreational boating community has a $26 billion impact to Canada's economy and produces close to 400,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly. This includes close to 7,000 well- paying manufacturing jobs.

In 2006, nearly 6 million Canadians took to the water in a boat, including personal watercraft, which I will refer to as PWCs. These boaters have a $6 billion impact to tourism through travel, fishing, trailering, angling and other tourism-related activities in Canada. We also see many of our American friends taking to our waterways as they have 4.3 million boats in the eight Great Lakes states.

In 2006, there were an estimated 66,000 boats purchased. Of those, almost 4,000 were PWCs. Last year's figures — which I have obtained in the last hour or so — were close to 5,000 for PWCs. Earlier in the discussion we talked about how many boats there were versus personal watercraft out there. There are about 2.9 million boats and about 50,000 personal watercraft.

I want to turn now to discuss the safety issues. We recognize public concern regarding safe recreational boating practices in Canada. However, the vast majority of any ensuing recreational boating safety incidents reside with the operator, not the particular product. Boaters and users of PWCs need to be made aware of the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour when participating in recreational boating. Our industry strongly supports greater public education and awareness among operators rather than a ban or restriction on a safe product.

Statistics in other jurisdictions might be of interest to this committee. From past transcripts of meetings on the bill, I note U.S. figures were referenced. As such, I would like to provide a differing perspective from those previously put forward. As Senator Spivak has mentioned, the U.S. Coast Guard has a lot of great data. I will refer to a few of those as reference.

U.S. Coast Guard stats demonstrate that the most common cause of boating accidents involves operator inexperience, excessive speed and operator inattention. To address these concerns, the PWC Association of America has supported mandatory education for all PWC operators. By the end of 2002, 35 states had enacted mandatory education for PWC users in some form. In each of these states, PWC accident rates have significantly declined. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 99.99 per cent of all PWCs are operated accident free. There are a number of additional examples which I would be happy to provide individuals later, but I did not want to go into too much detail here.

Regardless, the record is showing that there is a significant, improved, positive safety record in those states that have mandated these educational programs, which we strongly support.

Here in Canada, local groups, including cottagers, address these issues through signage, alerting local and visiting boaters on responsible boating practices on that particular body of water. Consumer awareness programs work exceptionally well for the other modes, like safe driving practices, and are an effective method of addressing these issues with local police agencies and educational groups.

As an organization, we recognize Transport Canada's educational efforts through Safe Boating Awareness Week, and we support the enactment of a mandatory education program with each province.

As a Canadian example, I realize that Transport Canada has discussed that they do not track the fatalities and those statistics. I was able to find some statistics from the Ontario Provincial Police, because we have a good relationship with their marine department. That is in the package that was distributed this evening. It shows that, since 2003, of the 161 fatal boating accidents, only one was attributed to a PWC. Ontario accounts for 50 per cent of the boating market. That is also in the package.

Any legislation to regulate recreational boating should focus on finding solutions to enhance recreational boating safety in Canada, with an emphasis on how regulations and other measures can be improved to benefit the boater and the community, not a ban on the use of the product.

Since the mid-1990s, sit-down style, multi-passenger watercraft have made up about 99 per cent of all PWC sales, with three-person family models being the fastest-growing segment. The point is that while there might still be some ``yahoos'' out there using them, the focus and the majority of the users are families. There has been a significant change over the last seven or eight years. They are affordable, family boats with clean, quiet, fuel-efficient engines and no exposed propellers. Manufacturers have responded to consumer desire for environmentally friendly recreation and have created cleaner, quieter and more versatile watercraft. These models now account for more than 75 per cent of today's market. Recent data show that the average purchaser of a PWC in the last five years is about 41 years of age and 71 per cent are married.

In the packages that were distributed is a small picture to show you an example of what was then, and what is now, on a PWC. The development and incorporation of new technology engines and the sophisticated engine management systems that accompany today's PWCs have allowed for new features to be added to personal watercraft. One such system limits engine speed, thus reducing the maximum speed of the vessel. The boats come with engine cut-off cords that attach to the operator's wrist or life jacket. The engine automatically turns off the PWC's engine in the event that the operator falls off. PWC engines drive a jet pump that draws water from the bottom of the craft into an impeller, which pressurizes the water and forces it out of a nozzle at the rear of the craft. There is no exposed propeller.

I would like to now briefly turn to the issue of the environment. One of the underlying assumptions for the need for Bill S-221 is the lack of environmental regulation, and that these products cause undue harm to our sensitive Canadian waterways. In fact, Bill S-221 does not take into consideration the fact that PWCs are required to comply with the same emissions regulations as other types of powerboats, and that PWCs have a safety and emissions record with impacts on the environment that are as good as, if not better than, other powerboats. The industry continues to innovate, and manufacturers now provide vastly improved products, from an environmental standpoint, than those offered when this bill was first introduced.

In 1999, manufacturers entered into a MOU with Environment Canada, and emissions levels have substantially reduced, by as much as 75 per cent, since that time. Currently, one of our member's entire water vehicle line-up consists of environmental friendly four-stroke products, all of which are below the current emissions standards of 36 grams per kilowatt hour. With U.S. EPA Tier 2 standards just around the corner, the emissions levels will be reduced even further for those products imported into Canada.

Beginning with the 2003 model year, all PWC manufacturers have produced models with four-stroke engines, universally recognized as the cleanest and most fuel-efficient engines on the water. Today, these four-stroke engines account for the majority of sales and are ever gaining in popularity. In addition, hull insulation, exhaust system sophistication, material selection and other muffling technologies have resulted in personal craft that are 70 per cent quieter than models produced in the late 1990s.

We understand the concern that older models are still operating on the waterways. However, the average life span of a PWC is seven years, and while there are still likely older products out there on the waterways, the key is that huge strides have been made. There is a small diagram in your document that shows you a general view of what has happened with emissions in the last 10 years.

Finally, I would like to make a couple of comments about Transport Canada. Our association strongly supports the work that the Office of Boating Safety does for our industry. They are a very dedicated and capable group that we respect a great deal.

We are pleased to see that we have strong legislation in place here in Canada under the Canada Shipping Act. In particular, we congratulate Transport Canada on their efforts in developing new regulations under the act, which provide a significantly higher level of regulation, with a balanced approach, for all users of Canada's waterways, both commercial and recreational. These regulations, which you have heard about today, in addition to the existing provisions of the act, I feel render Bill S-211 redundant and provide a higher level of oversight than that contemplated in the bill before you. I urge Senator Spivak to work collaboratively with Transport Canada on any additional issues that are not addressed in the regulations.

I would like to close by saying that my organization has been before you during previous hearings. I hope I have provided you today with some additional material as you contemplate the need for the legislation. While this piece of proposed legislation has not changed since 2001, our industry continues to advance and innovate. In tandem, the Government of Canada has wisely kept up with our advancements to ensure an appropriate level of regulation through the Canada Shipping Act.

The Chair: Thank you. Does the industry have plans to improve even more the security of personal watercraft?

Ms. Anghel: Are you referring to additional safety measures on the product itself?

The Chair: Security.

Ms. Anghel: Issues have arisen in the past regarding the inability to steer the watercraft when it is off throttle, when it is not engaged. There has been a lot of work done in this area, led by Bombardier, a Canadian manufacturer in Quebec. They have introduced new safety technology which allows the operator to steer while the watercraft is off throttle. This is done through small veins in a rudder that is electronically and mechanically operated to allow you to steer when you are approaching. That is one example. Perhaps I could put the question to Bombardier and see what additional issues they have been trying to address. In my research, I have provided as much information as I think is available.

The Chair: This will be distributed to members.

Would your members consider working with cottage associations and local authorities to prevent accidents?

Ms. Anghel: Absolutely.

The Chair: Have they done that before?

Ms. Anghel: I am not aware that they have. I suspect that many of the manufacturers do a lot to contribute to local associations, such as cottage associations, and participate in various ways within their communities for the betterment of the community, and for safety and the environment. I cannot provide specific examples, but I would be happy to take that question to the members and I am sure they would be willing to assist.

The Chair: From what I heard from you, I feel that you approve of the proposed changes in the regulations that were recently tabled by Transport Canada.

Ms. Anghel: Yes. Obviously, some new regulations will be placed upon users, but my goal here was to tell you that things have changed in the last eight years or so, that we are fully supportive of whatever regulations Transport Canada puts forward and that we will work collaboratively with them to assist in providing any data we can. I have also spoken with Mr. Santos-Pedro about helping Transport Canada through some of my colleagues in the U.S. to see how we might be able to use some of the Coast Guard statistics that they have on accidents. Whatever we can do to help out, we will do. We are supportive.

The Chair: The government introduced Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations in the Canada Gazette in April 2008. How do these regulations affect the operation of personal watercraft? Do these regulations address the same concerns that Bill S-221 addresses?

Ms. Anghel: I have not been with the industry association for a long time. However, my experience in talking to the local marine trade associations across Canada is that while they might pose some potential difficulties in the short term, they are eager to work within the regulations and are supportive of them. We are not against the regulations and we are not trying to stop them from proceeding.

Senator Oliver: Thank you for your thorough and comprehensive presentation. Have you at any time sat down and talked with Senator Spivak about her bill and about your views on her bill?

Ms. Anghel: I would have loved to have done that. It is generally my policy in work to do just that. Unfortunately, I have not done that because I have been with the association for only three months. Perhaps, had this allowed me more time to look at the details, then I might have been able to do that.

Senator Oliver: Even though you have only been with the association for three months, have you read the regulations that our chair just referenced that were put in the Canada Gazette in April of this year?

Ms. Anghel: I have gone through them at a more communications analysis level. I have communicated with our local marine trade associations and with the industry. Everyone is supportive and happy to work within those confines. There have been discussions.

Senator Oliver: In terms of Senator Spivak's Bill S-221 and her concern about safety of personal watercraft, is there anything that cries out for regulation that has not been covered off by the regulations from Transport Canada that were recently gazetted?

Ms. Anghel: I do not believe so, no.

Senator Zimmer: Even though you have been with NMMA for only three months and have not had the opportunity to meet with Senator Spivak, I am more honoured, privileged and humbled that you were able to meet with me this afternoon, and I thank you.

The Chair's question earlier leads to another area about personal watercraft. You indicated that the industry has developed new technology to respond to a throttle that is not engaged. When a car loses power, the power steering is lost and it is extremely difficult to steer. The NMMA has made great strides in not only those areas but also in the area of emissions, noise pollution and fuel pollution. They are starting to install muffler systems that virtually do not affect the horsepower or the brake horsepower but cut down on the noise pollution. My direction today is to continue in that vein because it will take away that complaint, which is extremely important.

You spoke in your report about the need to focus on education. Could you elaborate on that? We have untrained drivers but we also have the trained ones who break the rules and should be retrained. The key is in the operator. You indicated another word, ``family.'' There seems to be a shift away from watercraft for the yahoos to the family-oriented watercraft, which is extremely important because they then police the yahoos. You are going in the right direction but could you elaborate on the focus of education that your association does?

Ms. Anghel: Certainly. Unfortunately, I have to refer again to what I have seen south of the border because they do a great job of collecting data and working collectively in the industry association. As a result of some of the mandatory education programs that our association in the U.S. has proposed, we have seen an average of 13 per cent decrease in accidents over the past five years. The education has been through safety courses and such things as mandatory wearing of life jackets; attaching the cut-off lanyard to the operator; and the minimum operator age of 16 years, which is the same as in Canada. All of those things have made a significant difference.

Basically, in 2006, for example, there were about 710 boating fatalities nation-wide in the United States, nearly three quarters of which occurred on boats where the operators had not taken a boating safety operator course. I propose that as an industry association, although we represent the manufacturers, but there is the subset that represents the personal watercraft of which we are very supportive. There needs to be a national campaign in Canada to educate the user. We encourage young drivers of Canada, and we have different requirements for getting a driver's licence in Canada. Although I represent the NMMA, I like to boat and go to cottages. I want to ensure that when my little girl grows up and is out there paddling in her boat offshore, there will not be someone out there who is not aware of the rules. Bombardier includes an operator manual with each of their products sold new. We need to work together to move beyond that so that everyone is aware of what they need to do when they are on personal watercrafts and in boats, generally.

Senator Zimmer: Thank you for presenting your position and that of the NMMA on this issue. It will be important to our hearings.

Senator Merchant: I was dismayed that the officials earlier did not have any statistics, given that you are able to get statistics. Is there one state in the U.S. that you look to as a leader in regulations and safety standards?

Ms. Anghel: Believe it or not, the state I am thinking of is also the one that has the largest number of boating accidents — Florida. They have stepped up and are now the model for all the educational programs. Obviously, their fatalities are much higher because 90 per cent of their state is surrounded by water. There is a heck of a lot of boating going on Florida, but they have done a great deal and, basically, now lead the way. Their registrations of accidents tracked have gone down significantly in the last five years that they have been doing mandatory enactment. They have laws that specifically outlined what you can do. There is mandatory boating safety education for all boaters, including PWC, under 22 years of age, which goes way beyond everything else. As well, they have to wear life jackets. The cut-off lanyard has to be attached to the operator and they cannot operate from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. I have not looked into why this is the case but it is probably for visibility purposes and the inability to see other boats approaching.

Florida also has regulations on jumping wakes and waves, which many PWCs do.

Senator Merchant: Accidents have gone down but they still have a high number of them.

I am looking at the same chart that I pointed out earlier at the very back of the statistics you have given us. If I am reading it correctly, the age group of 46 to 55 have the highest number of accidents. We keep saying that it is not the yahoos any more, the 16-year-olds, but it seems to me that the old guys are having the accidents. When you say the ownership of such craft is moving to older people and families, how has that made the operation of this watercraft safer?

Ms. Anghel: I cannot speak to those statistics; they are OPP statistics. I take your point, and we can look at that from a different perspective. From what I have found, the market is getting older and it is safer, but it is a good point on the stats.

Senator Merchant: I do not understand how this does not show that. It shows 11 accidents for PWCs, 257 for power boats and 105 for kayaks. That is in total? It is not related to the number of boats. It is not a relative statistic?

Ms. Anghel: That is total.

Senator Merchant: I thought Senator Spivak said there were between 2 and 3 million, and they had said that there were 2 million?

Ms. Anghel: We did an industry study in 2006, and I believe that it is 2.9 million boats, and from 45,000 to 50,000 personal watercraft.

Senator Merchant: This is relative then. Thank you.

Senator Comeau: Madam Anghel, from having served three months in your position, I am quite impressed. I regret that Senator Spivak did not stay to listen to your presentation. She might have picked up some points and tried to pick up the points in order to rebut them. Unfortunately, she did not stay around.

Ms. Anghel: Lucky me, I guess.

Senator Comeau: Madam Anghel, the whole process of the passage of private bills in our parliamentary process is scary, and nowhere more so than in the Senate where a bill is introduced. For the most part, these usually go to second reading and committee without much fanfare. Here is where the scary part comes in. Once a bill reaches a committee, the Senate has accepted the bill in principle, which means that this bill, other than minor amendments, could become a bill that, after a few clause-by-clause considerations, will be sent off to third reading and off to the House of Commons.

This is scary, again, because many of our colleagues in the Senate and the chamber itself will depend on this committee advising them on this bill, and we will get back to the whole Senate and say, ``Look, we passed this bill without amendment.'' Everyone in the Senate will say, ``Great. Let us go and get this off.''

The impression will be that we had seriously looked at this bill and, having gone through clause-by-clause consideration with no amendments, away we go, off to the House of Commons.

We may get into as much of a scary process there as is scary here. What I am suggesting here is: Are we doing our homework? We had Transport Canada officials who did a marvellous job in providing us advice tonight, and yourself as well. The Transport Canada officials indicated that there could be concerns. If we pass this bill and have not met with people with whom we should be meeting, for example, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, those groups may be extremely displeased if this bill becomes law. Nova Scotia is not listed there so it probably will not be much of a problem for me, but our colleagues from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta may want to consult with their provincial governments to see whether we should be proceeding with this legislation. What better way to do this than having these people in as witnesses? What do you think about that?

Ms. Anghel: I have contacted the local marine trade associations in those provinces. They are aware of the bill. It is my understanding from our discussions that they are not supportive of it, either. I will advise them of how things went here today and suggest that they contact their provincial governments and advise them of the process. I think it would be good idea, before this bill does receive third reading, that you review all you have heard here tonight and not necessarily, with all due respect, pass it for third reading just because first and second readings were agreed to in principle. I believe there is a lot of strong evidence here to have you put some time into the details. Even using Senator Spivak's words, she congratulates Transport Canada, and perhaps it is a matter of ships passing in the night between the time that the bill has appeared, come before us here tonight, versus the regulations passing on April 30. That might be a reason to collectively decide, or individually decide, not to be in favour of it.

Senator Comeau: You will probably consult with some of your contacts, and it would probably be a good idea for us to consult with the provinces in question.

Obviously, this bill would intrude into a regulatory process which is now between Transport Canada and the provinces, and we would throw interference into that process if this bill were to go through.

Ms. Anghel: If you are all willing and have the time, I would urge you, and really appreciate it if you would speak with some local or provincial groups.

Senator Comeau: I am concerned that there is another group we seem to be ignoring in all of this. You represent the manufacturers in both the U.S. and Canada, of course, but there is a whole group in here that probably does not have a voice, and these are the retailers out there. I am thinking of the small mom-and-pop operations in thousands of our rural communities across Canada, not only rural but towns and cities as well. There are small operations that sell, for example, motorcycles, chainsaws, personal watercraft, and they deal with their group of local customers. These people are small. They are struggling, and the economy is probably not where it should be right now, and this bill will impact these people, will it not?

Ms. Anghel: I got sidetracked. In my presentation, I spoke about the economic impact our industry has in Canada on manufacturing. In addition to that, the $26 billion I speak of includes retail and tourism. It includes marina operators, the local guy up in Parry Sound, Ontario, who is building two nice wooden boats every year for a niche market on in Muskoka, whatever the case may be. Yes, by virtue of mentioning that economic impact, I should have also provided for the fact that you are the voice for your constituents across Canada, and we should keep in mind that those folks are in tough economic times right now. In addition to all the important safety and environmental issues I have outlined, we need to also consider their economic stability and ability to continue to do business in Canada in today's market.

Senator Comeau: I am hard on my riding mowers — I should be more careful; I bump into things and so on — so I have go see my local retailer, but he also has motorcycles, personal watercraft, four-wheeled machines — what do you call them?

Ms. Anghel: Four runners, ATVs.

Senator Comeau: These are people who are also of concern to me. I do not find that they have been included. They have been completely left out of the dialogue on this matter, and this is a group we should be consulting.

Do they have an organized voice out there?

Ms. Anghel: The marine trade, being dealers across Canada, have a voice through their local marine trade association; so there is an active group in British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia, or Atlantic Canada overall.

Senator Comeau: This might be another group that we might want to consult.

Ms. Anghel: I have generally communicated the details and they know I am here this evening in principle. However, I think it would be wise. Again, folks get very busy and I am here speaking on behalf of everyone, but it might be a good idea to ask. I would be happy to provide contact information to the entire committee of my counterparts at the provincial level.

Senator Comeau: There also is nothing stopping us, as individual senators, when we go back to our individual communities to visit these people and say, ``What are your thoughts on this? Should we be bringing in this bill?'' — and provide some of the provisions of the bill. There would be nothing wrong with us doing that as individual senators.

Again, I come back to the scary scenario of how our colleagues in the chamber, once we come back with this bill for third reading, will be depending on us. I suppose if we come back with the bill saying, ``Okay, we have gone through it clause by clause, away we go, deal with it now,'' and Senator Spivak and I do a little speech and the bill goes off to the House of Commons, it is important for us to be able to do that prior to probably bringing this bill back into the house.

Ms. Anghel: I agree. The bill has a significant impact economically. There are changes that need to be accounted for, so I would urge you to do that, and I appreciate your comments. I did not want to be so bold as to suggest that there was more consultation required.

Senator Comeau: I will be bold and say it. There is consultation that needs to be done here, and I am saying it loudly.

The Chair: Are there any other questions, senators? No?

Thank you very much, Ms. Anghel. As you see, we still have a lot of discussion on this issue. The process is not over yet.

Senators, we will try to meet next week at 3:45 p.m. next Tuesday — we still have to check with our two whips — at Room 257 in the East Block, and the minister will meet with us on Bill C-23. We will need to talk to both whips and see if it is acceptable to both of them and we will send you a notice of meeting as soon as possible.

The committee adjourned.