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National lifeguard shortage felt at local pools

The pandemic paused lifeguard training courses and forced many instructors to find other work

Across the country, cities of all sizes are struggling to fill lifeguarding positions at beaches and pools in preparation for the peak summer months.

The lockdowns and restrictions that took place during COVID postponed most of Canada’s educational and training programming that hopeful lifeguards would be required to take, resulting in staffing shortages almost everywhere.

In the Sault, the city’s assistant aquatic supervisor Abby Booth says these challenges have been felt.

“It is becoming more difficult to hire qualified lifeguards and swim instructors,” she says. “In the past, we have not been able to offer as many swimming lessons and had to scale back on the hours of operation due to the lack of lifeguards and instructors.”

During the pandemic, many lifeguards had to find jobs elsewhere since there was no work for them at the pools. As facilities are reopening to their regular schedules, Booth says they’re trying several methods to help fill the current void.

“As an extra incentive, we are offering our lifesaving course for free this year to help alleviate any financial barrier candidates might have in taking these courses,” she says. “It will still take some time as candidates work their way through courses to get our staffing numbers back up, but it will help with the process.”

Booth explains the training required to become a lifeguard is relatively intense, and that meeting all the instructor qualifications is a huge accomplishment.

“Candidates are required to have a certain level of physical fitness in the water and are trained to prevent and respond to emergencies,” she says. “To become a lifeguard, candidates have to complete the Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid CPR C Courses before they can take the National Lifeguard course. To become a swim instructor, candidates need to complete the Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross Courses and then take their Swim Instructor Course.”

While it’s projected to take some time before they’re back up to their regular lifeguarding levels, Booth is confident that better days are ahead.

“It’s starting to scale up again,” she says. “As restrictions are lifting and people are feeling more comfortable back in the pool, we are excited to offer more lifesaving courses.”

For more information or to register for courses, visit johnrhodespool.ca or call 705-759-5419.

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Alex Flood

About the Author: Alex Flood

Alex is a recent graduate from the College of Sports Media where he discovered his passion for reporting and broadcasting
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