Lifesaving Society Manitoba hoping people consider lifeguard training due to staff shortages

Lifesaving Society Manitoba is hoping to connect people with fall courses for lifeguarding, as Manitoba continues to face a staff shortage.

The YMCA and YWCA have said the shortage of lifeguards this past summer has led to some of their pool hours being reduced.

“To make sure all our facilities are operational we need more staff. Lifeguard, swim instructors,” said Wendy Yates, YMCA-YWCA Winnipeg aquatics manager.

Meanwhile, the lifesaving society has expressed this is a problem for many facilities right across the province.

“We’re worried about the long-term people missing swimming lessons or finessing their skills.
That can impact us for future levels of injury and fatalities,” said Christopher Love, Lifesaving Society Manitoba’s Water Smart coordinator.

This is not the first time the alarm bells have been rung in regards to a notable shortage.

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Read more: Lifeguard shortage could be dangerous to Manitoba swimmers, society says

Love also called attention back in May and attributed it to pandemic shutdowns.

“There’s a combination of factors driving the shortage,” Love told Global News. “Part of it was we had widespread shutdowns through the pandemic, and that restricted the amount of training people could take.

“With those shutdowns, a lot of people left the industry. They went and found other jobs, because the places they worked normally were closed.”

The traditional recruitment demographic for the industry — young people between 16 and 23 years old — is finding itself pulled in many directions these days, and youth may not be willing to go through the amount of training needed to become a qualified lifeguard, he said.

“It’s not necessarily as attractive to people if they have to get training up front before walking out on the pool deck.”

However, staffing shortages are nothing new and are affecting many industries across the board.

Read more: COVID-19: Staffing challenges hitting Manitoba’s service industry hard

Canada’s restaurant industry was especially hard hit by two years of shutdowns, repeated layoffs and strict capacity limits.

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About 13,000 eateries across the country closed permanently, according to data collected around July 29.

Compounding the issue now is Canada’s rock-bottom unemployment rate, which Statistics Canada said hit 5.2 per cent in April.

Additionally, around June 27, the union that represents Winnipeg firefighters expressed concerns around staffing shortages at city fire stations and called it an “untenable and unsafe situation.”

“That’s a safety issue for our members … it’s also unsafe for the (public) that’s waiting (while) those valuable seconds are ticking by and machines have to come from further away,” said United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg president Tom Bilous.

Bilous blamed the city’s hiring practices and “an inadequate and outdated staffing ratio” for the shortages.

Assistant Chief of the WFPS, Jason Shaw, said several factors are at play, including COVID-19, burnout, long-term disability and mental health issues.

“We’re working through the processes, we’re communicating with our union partnerships,” he said.

“We’re really doing our best to makes sure that we can get everyone back. It’s been challenging. We’re talking about very high call volumes and it’s been a busy time and we’re hopefully coming out of this.”

Click to play video: 'YMCA-YWCA Winnipeg feeling impact of lifeguard shortage' YMCA-YWCA Winnipeg feeling impact of lifeguard shortage

YMCA-YWCA Winnipeg feeling impact of lifeguard shortage

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— with files from Global’s Shane Gibson 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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