Boaters heed this

Proposed changes to boating regulations may be costly for boat owners.

Boaters who operate motor-driven boats and are required to hold a Transport Canada Operator Card for Pleasure Craft will be affected by the proposals.

For those of you who hold this Pleasure Craft Operators Card, chances are at some point you wrote an exam administered by a third-party operator and, if you passed, were issued a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

These cards are required to be carried by skippers at all times when operating a motorized vessel and in the majority of cases have no date of expiry.

The only exception was for those who were renting a powerboat or personal watercraft such as a Sea-Doo or WaveRunner.

This exemption was based on the fact that it was not practical to be able to administer the test in such a short period of time and that boat rental agencies provide safety instructions for operators who are renting the boats in question.

The reason for my report this week is that Transport Canada is considering making significant changes to this program.

How will these changes potentially affect you if you hold this card?

For starters, the cards may no longer become permanent.

There may be a new requirement to take a new course potentially every five years.

The courses themselves may also become considerably more expensive as Transport Canada has proposed that course operators pay a fee of $5,000 for a five-year term.

It is also proposed that there would be an additional fee payable to Transport Canada for each individual who passes the course and receives a new Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

In addition, is a proposed elimination of the exemption for those who would rent a powerboat or personal watercraft.

This proposal has generated significant concern from local boat rental agencies as it is unclear how a test could be administered in a short period of time as well as the economics of the added costs to the boat rental industry, of which we have many here in the Okanagan.

I am not a boater, however, the comments I have heard from boaters are greatly concerned about these proposed changes.

As one boater shared with me: our local lakes are not serviced by the Canadian Coast Guard, and, for the most part, the Okanagan does not have many of the costly to service navigation aids located in other bodies of water, and it is proposed to remove VHS weather services that many boaters do use.

In other words, the concerns can be summarized that the federal government is offering less services to local boaters but wanting to take more money from them in return.

In fairness, Transport Canada they have indicated that the current program, as it exists, generates no revenue for the federal government but does carry costs.

The fees raised by these changes will contribute toward the costs of Transport Canada to administer this program.

My question this week is to boaters

  • Are you supportive of these changes?

Unfortunately, the window of time Transport Canada provided to comment on these proposals has expired, but more information can be found here.

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


Want a COVID passport?

f you have lived in the Okanagan long enough, chances are you may have come across the odd sign at a local business that reads:

“No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

Now imagine reading a sign that reads “No COVID vaccination passport, no business.”

While that may sound extreme, in New York City (as one example), there is a passport program being launched this month geared at allowing vaccinated individuals to attend sports, arts and entertainment venues.

In Israel, there is a COVID-19 vaccine passport program called Green Pass that provides proof of vaccination via a QR code.

Individuals with a Green Pass are allowed to attend certain public places, including theatres and concerts.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), IBM and others are in the process of developing apps that provide a similar vaccination verification service.

Many airlines are working with these app developers to put these vaccine verification app programs into use.

Regardless of what Canada decides on the topic of proof of vaccination, for many who travel for work or pleasure, it is likely those Canadians may require Canadian vaccination documentation in order to satisfy requirements, either from other countries, or travel related organizations like airlines.

Another example is the cruise ship industry.

Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Crystal Cruises, Virgin Voyages, American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines have all announced various vaccination verification requirements.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has met with health ministers from other G-7 countries to discuss the potential for proof-of-vaccine documents related to travelling.

My question this week is:

  • What are your views on vaccination passports?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Accountability under threat

In November 2015, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote an open letter to Canadians.

In that letter among other promises the PM offered this:

“….we committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in Ottawa. Government and its information must be open by default. Simply put, it is time to shine more light on government to make sure it remains focused on the people it was created to serve- you.”

I believe these words that the Prime Minister wrote to Canadians in 2015 are important and must be honoured.

As the Official Opposition, it is also our role to hold the Prime Minister and his Liberal government accountable for these and other promises made to Canadians.

Accountability is vital.

It is why, in 2006, former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper created the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) to help hold your government accountable.

It should also be noted that the creation of the PBO was the result of a campaign promise made by former PM Harper to create more accountability in Ottawa, in response to the former Liberal government sponsorship scandal.

Why does this matter?

Because accountability and transparency are under threat in Ottawa.

In 2018, the Trudeau Liberal Government tabled a budget that included a $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan.

What's deeply troubling is when the PBO requested the documents to review this infrastructure spending plan, no documents were provided.

As a result, in March of 2018 the PBO publicly reported:

“Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the Government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan. PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist.”

Fast forward to January 2020 and now a minority government, we, as the Official Opposition, tabled an opposition day motion that is summarized as:

“…given the PBO posted on March 15, 2018, that “Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan” and that the “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist,” the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the government’s Investing in Canada Plan.”

Although the Trudeau Liberal government vigorously opposed this motion, it passed with 166 votes in favour and 152 opposed.

Here we are now in April, three years after the PBO first raised the alarm bells, and the Auditor General recently released the audit (Report 9) of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure plan.

Unfortunately, the Auditor General also stated:

“Overall, Infrastructure Canada — as the lead department for the Investing in Canada Plan — was unable to provide meaningful public reporting on the plan’s overall progress toward its expected results.”

This relates to $186.7 billion in spending.

My question this week:

  • Should this be acceptable conduct from your government?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


We need re-opening plan

The Conservative opposition party tabled an opposition day motion in the virtual House of Commons, this week.

It called for the Liberal government to introduce a data-driven,COVID re-opening plan within 20 days to support “gradually, safely and permanently lifting COVID-19 restrictions.”

As is often the case with opposition day motions, the Liberal government has offered up a litany of reasons that suggest they will oppose this motion, which, at the time of this report, has not yet been voted on.

Why the need for a re-opening plan?

As Canadians know, vaccinations are now underway and, regrettably, Canada is significantly behind many countries, including the United States.

Already many local small businesses involved in tourism, as well as accommodation providers, are receiving reservation requests from fully immunized American citizens for potential upcoming vacation stays.

For an industry that has been devastated by this pandemic, the opportunity for bookings and accompanying revenue is desperately needed.

Unfortunately, for this industry, and many others, they are unclear how and when to respond to these requests.

There are also remains a critically important question.

Many citizens are under various restrictions and requirements.

While the Prime Minister has promised that all citizens who want to be immunized by the end of September will be, we do not know what vision the PM has following this time frame.

This relates to the obvious question.

For fully vaccinated Canadian citizens who eventually are, how will that potentially change federal restrictions for them on travel beyond Canadian borders?

Likewise, if other countries propose a requirement that fully vaccinated citizens produce vaccination verification documentation, how does this government propose to respond to this?

Many Canadians want and deserve to know what the game plan is once vaccines in Canada have been fully administered.

The answers to these questions are also very badly needed by those in the travel and aviation sectors who have been decimated by this pandemic.

While the Liberal government MPs arguing against this motion have largely suggested that expectations for a re-opening plan is “too soon,” it must be noted that U.S. President Joe Biden and British PM Boris Johnson have both released public plans for economic reopening.

We all know that COVID restrictions have had serious economic and mental health impacts on many Canadians.

It is important that we all have clarity on when and how the federal government believes regular economic and social life will be able to resume.

My question this week:

  • Do you believe it is a reasonable expectation that the Liberal government present a data driven, gradual re-opening plan much as the U.S. and U.K. have already done?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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