Canada’s lifeguard industry needs saving

Somebody should reboot Baywatch, because we need something, anything to motivate people to become lifeguards.

Driving the news: Canada is in the midst of a years-long lifeguard shortage that is forcing provinces and cities to take desperate measures to create more lifesavers in red Speedos. 

  • Canada’s lifeguard deficit stems from the pandemic era, when pools closed and lifeguards were laid off. When pools re-opened, many had moved on.

Ontario resorted to lowering the minimum age required to become a lifeguard from 16 to 15 to bolster numbers, while Winnipeg waived all fees for its next training and certification program.

  • Costly training is a major barrier to entry, with initial training and additional courses adding up to $1,500 (and 135 hours), per the Manitoba Lifesaving Society.

Meanwhile, in BC, cities are simply offering more money. Lifeguards in Vancouver can make $28 an hour ($12 more than minimum wage) and as much as $35 an hour if they patrol a beach.

Why it matters: Canadians might have to take their water wings to the backyard, as dozens of pools reduce hours or close down. This couldn’t happen at a worse time as hitting the water to cool off is a necessary respite for many AC-less Canadians as temperatures soar.

Bottom line: Numbers, while still low, are higher than last year. Hopefully, this trend keeps up and we can all cannonball safely.—QH