Three-time swimming gold medalist Elaine Tanner is urging the Ontario government to reinstate lifeguards at the province's beaches.

Tanner has spent several years touring beaches such as Wasaga Beach and Sandbanks Provincial Park in eastern Ontario.

Municipal beaches are required to have lifeguards, and Tanner said all the big provincial beaches used to have lifeguards, but they were phased out to cut costs.

"There's also a lack of safety devices in case a family or other people, the public, have to pull someone out," Tanner said.

"There's no life buoys, there's no reaching poles - even paddle boards, anything. And again, we're talking low budget here. It's not going to break the bank. So it's total disregard for public safety," Tanner said.

Figures from the Canadian Lifesaving Society show 68 people have drowned in Ontario since January. That's six more than the number who drowned during the same period last year.

Tanner points out that until the 1980s, lifeguards were a fixture on popular beaches. She says it's statistically proven that less than one per cent of drownings happen when a lifeguard is present...