A less disastrous year on the province’s bodies of water

After a peak reached during the pandemic in 2020, the number of drownings in Quebec is down sharply for a second year in a row.

• Read also: Another deadly summer on the roads

The Quebec Lifesaving Society counts 54 drowning victims in the province as of September 1; last year at this time, the organization counted 66.

These figures are far from the peak of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, when no less than 95 people had lost their lives in the water. The balance sheet had improved a little in 2021, with 81 deaths.

These data are encouraging to the Lifesaving Society, especially after the past two deadliest years. These numbers are unofficial because they are based on media reports. They will be validated during the collection of statistics at the coroner’s office.

The “borders that have reopened” and “a windy summer” less conducive to outings on the water played a role in this improved assessment, believes Guilaine Denis, director of events and member services at the Lifesaving Society.

Prevention work with the population has also played a role, believes Ms. Denis. “We would like to believe it in any case. »

Alone and intoxicated

But there is still room for improvement in this assessment. Alcohol and drugs seem to play an important role in drowning cases in Quebec, says the Lifesaving Society. An unofficial figure, which once again remains to be validated at the coroner’s office.

“We are able to make an estimate that 20% of the victims this summer, aged 18 or over, had consumed alcohol and/or drugs. We still have work to do. »

And among the other data collected by the organization, one of them particularly “raises eyebrows” Ms. Denis. In 55% of drowning cases, people are alone.

“It’s really something that we see in the last few years where people are going to practice water sports […] lonely. We see this statistic, we see it go up since the pandemic, ”she observes.


However, a less fatal year does not mean that we will slow down when it comes to prevention. Since 32% of deaths occur in our lakes and 24% in our rivers, Ms. Denis insists on the importance of learning to swim.

“There is a difference between knowing how to swim and knowing how to bathe. We place great importance on learning to swim and knowing your aquatic skills. »

In addition, she reminds us that wearing a life jacket and carefully supervising children near a water source remain essential.


  • 54 victims drowning in Quebec this year as of September 1
  • 55% of victims are alone when they drown

Location of drownings

  • Lake 32%
  • River 24%
  • River 16%
  • Swimming pool 8%
  • Stream 5%
  • Lake (supervised beach) 5%
  • Other 10%

Source: Lifesaving Society

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