Pools and beaches scrambling for lifeguards

A shortage of trained lifeguards on P.E.I. will affect the province's beaches this summer and could have an impact on pools as well.

Increase wages, suggests certified lifeguard

The Town of Cornwall needs one more certified lifeguard for the summer, says parks and recreation manager Kim Meunier. (CBC)

A shortage of trained lifeguards on P.E.I. will affect the province's beaches this summer and could have an impact on pools as well.

CBC News reported Tuesday that Tourism Department officials say a shortage of trained lifeguards means the beach at Red Point Provincial Park won't be supervised. And lifeguards will only be on duty at Cabot Park four days a week.

As outdoor pools are getting ready to open for the season, they're finding the same problem.

Lifeguard Kyle Bryenton says more people would become certified if wages on P.E.I. were higher. (CBC)
Cornwall is set to open its new pool later this week, but the town's parks and recreation manager Kim Meunier says the town is still looking for one more lifeguard.

If you were up the wages ... you would definitely have a lot more people willing to pay the money to get certified.- certified lifeguard, Kyle Bryenton

"We barely get the minimum to keep our pool open the regular hours," said Meunier. "But it's a struggle every year and it is getting harder."

In-house training

Lifeguard Kyle Bryenton says there's a simple fix to the shortage.

"If you were to maybe up the wages to what other places, other provinces in Canada and what it is elsewhere and down in the States, you would definitely have a lot more people willing to pay the money to get certified."

Lifeguards are typically paid just over minimum wage on P.E.I. — about $11 or $12 an hour.

"We'd love to be paying our lifeguards $16 or $17 an hour, but on a two-month season, it's very challenging," said Meunier.

Camp Seggie trains its own lifeguards, says assistant executive director Bob Terpstra. (CBC)
Camp Seggie needs about 15 lifeguards every summer. It has found a way around the shortage by training lifeguards in-house.

"That way we kind of always have this flow of lifeguards coming up through the ranks. It's just too hard to find somebody for four hours a day with our program," said the camp's assistant executive director, Bob Terpstra.

The province is working on a program to promote lifeguarding as a summer job.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.