Lifeguards: COVID has worsened shortage, officials say

A lack of programs to certify lifeguards is contributing to the industry-wide shortage seen in Canada, a Toronto city official said.

« The main contributor to this problem is a few years of no certification programs, where the industry has not been able to keep up with development, » said Aydin Sarrafzadeh, acting director of park management services, of forestry and recreation for the City of Toronto, CTV News Channel told CTV News Channel on Friday.

Across the country and across North America, cities are reporting a shortage of lifeguards, which has affected their summer activities.

Many city officials and people involved in the industry cite the lack of certification programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the current shortage.

Although the lack of training is not a new phenomenon, some say that COVID-19 has made the situation worse.

About 1,000 lifeguards guard beaches, as well as outdoor and indoor pools, throughout the summer in Toronto, with additional staff needed to guard wading pools.

As of June 22, the city said it has about 700 lifeguards ready to monitor all of the city’s 55 outdoor and indoor pools and up to 10 beaches this season.

However, due to a lack of swimming instructors, the city had to cancel 169 swimming lessons, affecting approximately 1,140 participants.

The city said in a June 22 statement that mandatory certification and recertification programs have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarrafzadeh said the city opened and staffed all of its outside assets, while trying to recertify as many people as possible and quickly hire and train new candidates.

Meanwhile, other sports like football are also feeling the pinch of having fewer officials available.

With files from CTV News


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