Bill 93 will make lifejackets mandatory for children 12 and under in Ontario

child wearing a lifejacket Photo by Collin Quinn Lomax/Shutterstock

Ontario MPP Goldie Ghamari is on a mission to save lives by reintroducing Bill 93, Joshua’s Law (Lifejackets for Life), 2023. The proposed bill will require children 12 and under to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while on a boat or being towed, except when they are in an enclosed cabin. 

Ghamari was initially shocked to find out that there wasn’t already a requirement for children 12 and under to wear a PFD. After all, she adds, both bicycle helmets and seatbelts are mandatory, so why aren’t lifejackets? “It’s a common sense piece of legislation,” says Gharmari.

Bill 93 was originally introduced by MPP Norm Miller in 2021. The bill reached second reading, but Miller retired before it officially became law.

The bill was renamed Joshua’s Law after Gharmari was introduced to Cara McNulty, the mother of Joshua Steinburg, who passed away in a boating accident in 2018. Shortly after, McNulty started Lifejackets for Life, an initiative that is advocating for lifejackets to be made mandatory for children on the water. 

The age restriction was determined by, “extensive research, consultation, and feedback from the public,” says Ghamari. There aren’t many age-restricted lifejacket laws in Canada, so the research was based on American legislation. 

Adults can receive a $200 fine if children on board are not wearing lifejackets. In reviewing similar jurisdictions’ laws, Miller determined this fine is significant enough to serve as a reminder to parents. “Joshua’s Law isn’t meant to be punitive,” Gharmari says. “The purpose is to raise awareness and save lives. It’s really about instilling safety habits for kids at a young age.” 

Ghamari does not anticipate any opposition to the non-partisan bill, which has so far received unanimous support from all parties. She encourages people to reach out to their local MPPs to express support for the bill.

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