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A kayaker paddling out in surf in a sea kayak.
Photo credit: Richard Alexander

Paddle Canada Accident Policies

The aims of these accident policies are to:

  • define the obligations of Paddle Canada instructors, staff and executives regarding accidents that occur in the course of events sponsored by Paddle Canada or courses sanctioned by Paddle Canada.
  • provide advice to instructors, staff and executives regarding accidents.

Download Standard Paddle Canada Accident / Incident Report Form

Scope and Limitations

Paddle Canada is a voluntary organization that exists to promote paddle sport and paddle sport safety. It publishes and maintains skill standards for paddlers and for paddling instructors. It sanctions instructional courses for the purpose of certification of participants, but does not manage or deliver instruction directly. It does not inspect training facilities, nor does it audit adherence to the standards established in its training manuals. Paddle Canada does not, therefore, have the responsibilities of an employer regarding accidents that occur on courses its sanctions.

Paddle Canada from time to time sponsors meetings, symposiums and events. Paddle Canada has additional responsibilities for safety for events it directly manages.



Instructors are responsible for knowing Paddle Canada standards and applying them to deliver safe paddling instruction.

No instructor will be disciplined by Paddle Canada for an accident unless there has been gross negligence or the policy on intoxicants has not been followed.

Instructors must report any accident where outside emergency assistance was required for an instructor, a participant or member of the public to Paddle Canada using the standard accident reporting form. “Outside emergency assistance” means police, fire, ambulance, EMT’s, a hospital visit or assistance by any other medical professional.

Instructors must report any accident where there has been significant property damage or loss to a third party, such as the loss or write-off of a boat.

Instructors may report any “close call” incident which had the potential of resulting in serious injury, to Paddle Canada using the standard accident reporting form.


The Executive Director is responsible for responding to accident reports by:

  • forwarding reports to Paddle Canada’s insurer;
  • analyzing accident reports to determine whether a reported incident might require changes to Paddle Canada policies, standards or policies;
  • informing the Board of accidents and providing advice on the response to them;
  • in consultation with the Board, responding to media regarding accidents.

Staff are advised that Paddle Canada would normally have no first-hand knowledge of the circumstances of any incident and therefore should not provide media comment beyond confirming the registration of a course, the certification of instructors and contents of Paddle Canada manuals and policies.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for:

  • ensuring that Paddle Canada’s policies, standards and manuals reflect any “lessons learned” from incidents;
  • responding to media regarding incidents. The President would normally be the spokesperson for the Board.

Advisory to Instructors and Event Organizers

One of the primary objectives of Paddle Canada is to promote safe paddling. While Paddle Canada does not deliver courses directly its courses are designed with safety in mind. Instructors and event organizers should therefore consider the following:

Before a Course Starts

  • know your employer’s risk management plan and your role within it. Paddle Canada event organizers should ensure they have a risk management plan in place;
  • ensure that you have an adequate understanding of the safety considerations of the Paddle Canada program as outlined in the manuals;
  • ensure that your personal safety-related certifications are up-to-date.

Should an Incident Occur

  • Try to prevent deterioration of the situation. You may provide emergency assistance for any injured parties.
  • Obtain emergency assistance as required (eg. Police, ambulance, fire department)
  • Complete an incident report (Liability Loss Report Form) as soon as possible, while details are still fresh and those involved are still at the scene.
    • Obtain name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of witness(es).
    • If possible, take photographs or video the site of the incident or accident including any and all warning signs, posters, etc.
  • Never admit or discuss liability verbally or in writing.
  • Attach any letter(s) or threat of claim, Writ of Summons, or any relevant documentation to the incident report form and send it to Paddle Canada immediately.
  • If a claim or threat of claim has been made, do not attend or agree to attend any meetings called to discuss the claim or threat of claim without prior consultation with your insurer’s representative.
  • In case of crime incident:
    • Protect the crime scene, as best as you can, to aid the police investigations.
    • Obtain name(s), address(es), and phone number(s) of any witnesses.
    • Calculate the value of the items stolen (eg. deposits, property, etc.) and damage to property (eg. doors, windows, walls, safe, etc.).
  • Do not release information to the media or anyone else, without further instruction. Be aware that any statement made to the media could be used in legal proceedings. If employed by an organization, you should understand their media policies. Paddle Canada event organizers should refer media requests to the Executive Director unless delegated to speak to the media directly.