Millions of Canadians now boating illegally

TORONTO, Sept. 15 /CNW/ - Warm weather and sunny autumn forecasts are encouraging many Canadians to enjoy an extended boating season. However, millions of "unlicensed" boaters will now face a $250.00 fine if they're caught operating a powered boat in Canada.

The federally mandated deadline to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card expired at midnight yesterday - leaving approximately 8 million Canadians without the card - and without an excuse on the water.

Although some have hung up their lifejackets and plan to obtain the card next spring, boaters are now concerned with rumours that the exam to obtain the card will no longer be available.

"We've fielded calls from thousands of recreational boaters who've been mislead by these rumours," stated Cameron Taylor, spokesperson for BOATsmart! Canada, a Transport Canada recognized provider of the exam. "The official exam is available now, and will continue to be available online at BoatSmartExam.com."

BOATsmart! Canada reminds Canadians that it will continue to offer the exam both online and in-person at hundreds of test facilities across Canada. The organization is concerned about the level of deception surrounding the exam, which has been spurred on by providers looking to cash-in on the fears of Canadians.

"Unfortunately, some providers of the exam have fueled rumours of price increases and more difficult exams in order to entice Canadians into attempting the exam," commented Taylor. Boaters should be aware that only one thing has changed since the deadline passed - you can now be fined for not having the card.

Canadians flocked to BOATsmart! Canada's web site by tens of thousands to complete the exam before the deadline expired at midnight. "We were prepared for the rush and ready to assist Canadians," remarked Taylor. The organization continues to offer the exam 24/7 online at www.BoatSmartExam.com, noting that the demand for its free online study material and exam continued after the deadline expired.

Those looking to boat this week can obtain a legal temporary card immediately by completing the exam at BoatSmartExam.com. Once obtained, the operator card is good for life, whether you took it before the deadline - or after. The organization mails the permanent card within 2 weeks of completing the exam.

As of this morning, enforcement agencies across the country were prepared to fine boaters caught without the card. Police, RCMP and Conservation Officers recognize that Canadians have had fair warning, noting that the federal law was phased in over a ten year period.

Millions of boaters however, are still unsure of the deadline. Others are waiting until the 2010 boating season to get certified. Less than one quarter of Canadian boaters have obtained their card and unfortunately many of those are now faced with replacing lost cards that they obtained years ago. Boaters in need of replacement cards can access BOATsmart! Canada's national database by calling toll free 1-877-792-3926. Boat operators are cautioned that they must be able to provide the physical card when asked, or they will be fined.

The federal law requiring the card applies to ALL operators of powered vessels - regardless of their age or size of boat. Boaters who have completed a recognized boating safety course or rental safety checklist may be exempt from requiring the card. Information regarding exemptions is available online at www.BoatSmartExam.com.

BOATsmart! is Canada's largest and most recognized Course Provider. The organization's mission is to educate recreational boaters and promote the safe, enjoyable and environmentally friendly use of Canada's waterways.

SOURCE BOATSMART! CANADA

For further information: For further information: For media inquiries and to arrange an interview, please contact Cameron Taylor, Spokesperson, BOATsmart! Canada, Cell (416) 524-8943, cameron@boatsmartexam.com, www.BoatSmartExam.com

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BOATSMART! CANADA

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