Indeed Chief Windsor, it is a pretty scary future for any would be engineers. I think the whole purpose of the path nowadays is to get young people into structured programs such as the cadet program. Doing it all by yourself, working through licenses like allot did in the older days, is pretty much not an option.
Lately Transport Canada has offered some alternatives to the the initial requirements of the fourth class. Primarily those who are not able to attend the maritime schools for their six months, can attend local community colleges for similar training, that achieve some of the goals. One such local college in Canada, I believe the first in Canada, is Malaspina College in Nanaimo, which is offering through its partner, MEA of Vancouver, a course that meets the new guidelines of TC without having to specifically go to Vancouver or the like where there is a maritime school. This is specifically attractive for working people who want their license, who may already have some experience on the boats and want to progress, rather than a person fresh out of high school joining the cadet program.
On a side note, I understand that there is some exciting news for Vancouver Island would be mariners. A new maritime school is being planned for central Vancouver Island. This would make taking MEDs much easier and cheaper. Check back here for updates in the new year.
Certified Marine Engineer and Webmaster
Martin's Marine Engineering Page