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“Common-sense bill” introduced by MPP Miller to make life jackets mandatory for children

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Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller’s bill aimed to make it mandatory for children under 12 to wear a life jacket when on a “small pleasure boat.”

Bill 76, the Lifejackets for Life Act, passed second reading Tuesday.

If passed, whoever is supervising the child would have to make sure the life jacket is on property. The proposed penalty is a maximum fine of $200.

“The statistics prove that life jackets are the best way to protect children from accidental drowning while boating,” Miller says. “This is a common-sense bill that will go a long way in protecting children because even one young life lost to drowning is too many.”

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The bill is not law yet. It has to be reviewed and pass third reading before it receives royal assent and becomes law in Ontario.

Miller says he consulted with many groups before putting the bill forward including Parry Sound-Muskoka Area Lifesaving Society, the Georgian Bay Association, the Lake of Bays Association, Parachute Canada, the Canada Safety Council, Safe Quiet Lakes, as well as Dr. Suzanne Beno from the Canadian Pediatric Society’s Injury Prevention Committee, Cara McNulty from Lifejackets for Life who lost her son in a boating accident, and Dan Mulligan, a retired OPP helicopter pilot who inspired the idea for the bill.

In his current term, Miller has introduced two bills. One, bill 228, was passed in May 2021. The bill makes it mandatory that polystyrene foam used in docks and other floating structures be encapsulated so pieces don’t break off and pollute waterways. The other one, bill 118, is aimed at limiting the liability for slips and falls.

Miller announced in November that he would not be running for re-election in the 2022 provincial election. He’s served as the MPP for the riding since 2001.

***With files from Mathew Reisler

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