The measure would require an investment of $21.5 million from the Quebec government, spread over five years.

To become a lifeguard, training totaling a hundred hours and an approximate cost of $1,000 is required. The terms of application of the aid promised by the CAQ government have still not been disclosed.

According to Raynald Hawkins, general manager of the Quebec Lifesaving Society, 500 lifeguards and 1,500 assistant lifeguards are missing across the province to meet the needs.

The cost of training, far from being the only barrier

The lack of manpower would be due to two factors: the accumulated delay in the training of new lifeguards due to the pandemic, as well as the decline in the attractiveness of the profession.

It has been very difficult for the past two years to offer swimming lessons. In addition, we now realize that we have many aquatic dropouts who do not finish their training and who find jobs with often better salaries. »

A quote from Raynald Hawkins, Executive Director of the Lifesaving Society of Quebec

Working conditions, such as irregular hours and seasonal contracts, are also to blame, according to the director general of the Quebec Lifesaving Society.

Some hoteliers and indoor aquatic centers now offer permanent positions, allowing better stability for qualified candidates. Wage bonuses were also necessary this year in an attempt to retain the certified workforce.

Help that is not enough

For Véronyque Tremblay, President and CEO of the Association Hôtellerie Québec, the assistance offered by the government is not enough to make up for this shortage.

“Training for the aquatic emergency care certificate is valid for two years. Could we have proposed this summer to extend the validity of the patent? We could also perhaps reduce the minimum age to become a lifeguard,” she suggests.

Retirees in good physical shape could also be called upon to fill vacant positions usually occupied by students or seasonal workers.

Working conditions are also an issue that may explain the lack of lifeguards.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc-André Landry

Abitibi-Témiscamingue is no exception

The Quebec average of supervisors per 1,000 inhabitants would be 2.2, an already rather low statistic according to Mr. Hawkins. In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, there are approximately 1.22 supervisors per 1,000 inhabitants.

We have to work on the attractiveness of the profession by improving working conditions, but it all starts with improving the training offer. »

A quote from Raynald Hawkins

The pandemic has hit hard with the provision of swimming and first aid lessons in several cities in the region.

Amos

The secondary school’s swimming pool there was closed for 14 months due to works, delaying the progress of the training of young lifeguards in the region.

“We have a big backlog here. I am the only one who can give these trainings and I myself had to supervise some free swims this year. It’s a very slow process,” says Sophie-Anne Faucher, aquatic coordinator and animator in the recreational sector for the City of Amos.

Ville-Marie

The training of lifeguards was already paid for in full by the municipality. This is also the case for many employers, according to Raynald Hawkins.

“Of course government aid will help, but it takes young people interested in the profession. We’ve lost half our lifeguards this year. We will have no choice but to limit the opening hours, “said Manon Gauthier, director of recreation and sports at the City of Ville-Marie.

Val d’Or

Remuneration at the hourly rate of $15.25/hy will soon be offered to those who would like to take lifeguard training completely free of charge.

According to Marc Lafortune, aquatics manager for the City of Val-d’Or, a lot of training work remains to be done.

“We managed to recruit several assistant lifeguards, but very few qualified lifeguards. It is certain that there will be major service failures,” he points out.

Rouyn Noranda

The situation there is less dramatic, but we must still remain vigilant, according to Mario Gagnon, aquatic coordinator for the City.

“The presence of CEGEP and university helps a lot, but it is certain that training has been on the decline since the start of the pandemic. We have more difficulty recruiting, ”he testifies.



Reference-ici.radio-canada.ca

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