In Ontario, children aged 12 and under are currently not required by law to wear a life-jacket while on a boat. However, a private member’s bill, called Joshua’s Law, is seeking to change that. The bill, introduced by Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari, is named after 11-year-old Joshua Steinberg who tragically died in a boating accident in 2018 without wearing a life-jacket.
If passed, the law would mandate that every child 12 and under must wear a life-jacket or personal flotation device while boating in Ontario waters, with a $200 fine for each child not wearing one. Currently, while life-jackets must be present on board, they are not required to be worn.
The proposed bill has achieved second reading and unanimous support from all parties, but may not pass before the current legislative session concludes. The bill has garnered support from advocates like Brigitte Labby, a safe boating instructor, who noted that in 80% of drowning cases, the person was not wearing a life-jacket or personal flotation device.
The enforcement of the proposed law is likely to be more prevalent on larger, more popular lakes and less so on smaller, remote lakes due to the lack of police presence.