(CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY)
Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise in the house today to speak about the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving's “Arrive Alive – Drive Sober” campaign.
This campaign is a great tool to raise awareness and remind drivers that drinking and driving does not mix. And this year, the campaign is also focussing on the fact that drinking and boating is just as dangerous.
In 2006, alcohol was a factor in approximately 38 per cent of fatal boating incidents in Ontario. In fact, 36 people died in boating incidents that year.
That's why, last year, I was pleased to see the passage of legislation that tackles drinking and boating. In the very first boating season after the new laws were passed, 40 boat operators were charged with impaired operation of a vessel, and also received an immediate 90-day Administrative Driver's Licence Suspension.
If you are caught drinking and operating a motorized or non-motorized boat, you will be subject to the same penalties as drinking and driving. These include:
Mr. Speaker, these programs apply to anyone convicted of operating a boat while impaired, including powerboats, jet-skis, dinghies, sailboats and canoes.
And, depending on the number of times they have been convicted of driving while impaired, a person could lose their driver's licence for life.
Mr. Speaker, Ontario has some of the toughest drinking and driving laws in Canada. On top of the driver's licence suspensions I've just mentioned, we have a mandatory ignition interlock program,
Our government wants to make our laws even tougher – last month, I introduced legislation in this House to protect Ontarians from drinking drivers.
If passed, this legislation would increase roadside driver's licence suspensions for drunk drivers, allow the courts to take vehicles away from repeat drinking and driving offenders and establish an early ignition interlock program for Criminal Code offenders.
With this proposed legislation, the McGuinty government is delivering on its commitment to ensure Ontario builds upon its successful record as a leader in road safety by keeping our communities and families safe.
But we need more than legislation — keeping people's feet to the fire on this issue is critical, and that's why I'm so pleased to note that Phil McNeely, my Parliamentary Assistant, was with OCCID this morning to launch their campaign and their “PASSPORT TO SAFETY”.
This passport, which is nice and small and folds neatly anywhere, has some great tips for having fun responsibly as well as a clear reminder of the costs of drinking and driving.
OCCID's message is simple: drunk drivers have no place on Ontario's roads and waterways.
Before I conclude, I would like to especially thank our police, fire and paramedics for the hard work they do to keep Ontarians safe on our roads.
We will continue to raise public awareness among young people – and among all drivers on this issue. Let's all work together to convince people to make responsible choices this summer, on land or on water.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.