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Ottawa to Toughen Standards for Operator Card Testing
Due to recent media reports regarding new standards for Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) testing we have asked our Just Ask John columnist John Gullick for response.

Q: I hear there are a number of changes coming from Transport Canada that will effect the Pleasure Craft Operator Card programme. Is that true?

A: Yes, we expect a number of changes to take place this fall. Here are comments that were recently made by our Chief Commander Mal Blann:

"For many years CPS has promoted the need for the Pleasure Craft Operator Competency (PCOC) program to include more comprehensive information, tougher exams, a mandatory education component, and tougher controls. Transport Canada (TC) has now substantially improved the accreditation requirements for Registered Providers to include a TC approved mandatory training manual covering 256 knowledge requirements (up from 149), a National Card Database, Official Language requirements, and Quality Management System. TC is also implementing more stringent protocols for on-line testing which includes mandatory education modules based on an approved manual and new 50 question exam similar to what CPS has been using (vs. 36 currently used by other providers). Some Registered Providers are now withdrawing from the program.

We expect to confirm CPS accreditation and initiation of related on-line testing by the fall Conference. PCOC is here to stay and we welcome the enhancements to the program. While the PCOC from CPS will still not be fully adequate for every recreational boater, it will be for many and will provide a good base for further education for all."

Here is a bit more information about Mal's comment on the more stringent on line testing protocols:

For on-line testing a person will no longer just be able to challenge a test. They will have to log on for a defined period of time and go through a series of learning modules. At the end of each module they will have to answer a short quiz which they must pass before they can go on to the next module. When they have successfully completed all the modules they can then challenge the 50 question test. Can people still cheat the system? Yes, but it will be much harder to do and there will be much more learning going on and that is what is most important. Transport Canada is just field tested a number of new tests in both French and English and is in the process of refining them. The new CPS course is just about finished its final review and we expect the new national PCO Card data base to be functional later this year.

All in all a number of welcome changes.