Measures will be put in place to counter the sharp drop in lifeguards trained in Quebec since the start of the pandemic, according to the Lifesaving Society.
In 2020, the number of trained aquatic lifeguards decreased by more than 50% in Quebec, from 5,500 in 2019 to approximately 2,400 the following year. The situation seemed to improve in 2021 with nearly 4,400 graduates. However, there remains a gap of more than 1,000 rescuers to fill.
“It is one of the domino effects of the pandemic, the figures have shown us that we have fewer candidates for training”, explained Raynald Hawkins, general manager of the Lifesaving Society.
Several lifeguards have also made the choice to redirect their careers during the pandemic and to find a new summer job.
In order to counter this problem and catch up, the Lifesaving Society had to take drastic measures.
The minimum age to become an apprentice lifeguard has been raised from 16 to 15, for example.
The Lifesaving Society relies heavily on government measure 15028, which aims to increase extracurricular activities. Educational establishments will therefore be able to offer lifeguard training, swimming lessons being authorized.
“We invite secondary school principals to put this in the programming, in partnership with the cities that give lifesaving courses,” said Mr. Hawkins.
Older people are encouraged to lend a hand.
“You are retired, or pre-retired, you have the taste to be able to share this passion with young and old, why not do the training too”, launched the general manager of the company.