Working to keep lifeguards on duty

Woolwich looks at options as province lowers the age limit to qualify for the job

Last updated on Jun 29, 23

Posted on Jun 29, 23

2 min read

Finding it tough to fill the roster of lifeguards, Woolwich is looking at hiring 15-year-olds for the job, in keeping with provincial changes.

The Ontario government earlier this month updated its age limit for lifeguarding to 15 years of age from 16.

“As school rises for the summer and the weather warms up, we spend more time enjoying pools and camp waterfronts,” said Minister of Health Sylvia Jones in a release. “Lowering the age for youth to become lifeguards creates more job opportunities for youth in a rewarding position that can help keep community pools and recreational camp waterfronts safe.”

The changes mean communities will now have access to more lifeguards so businesses and municipalities can hire additional staff for the summer season. Access to more lifeguards will also help operators maintain and expand their hours of operation for public swimming and aquatic lessons, the province maintains.

The shift is in line with changes recently made by the national Lifesaving Society, which oversees the certification of lifeguards.

Marie Malcolm, Woolwich’s acting recreation manager, says the township has been able to train and hire enough 15- to 20-year-old lifeguards to fill evening and weekend programming needs, but does struggle to find enough lifeguards for daytime programming.

“With the struggle to attract adults for daytime aquatic employment, we have been required to modify daytime weekday aquatic programming based on bather to lifeguard ratio standards,” she said.

“The [provincial] change means a certified 15-year-old could be hired as a lifeguard soon after qualifying for the job. While the change will help us seasonally and with recruitment, it is difficult to gauge how it will assist us long-term with our daytime weekday aquatic staff shortage.”

Malcolm says the township is starting to hire 15-year-olds that have the needed certifications, which include current certification of being a national lifeguard, current standard first aid and CPRC-C, and current Lifesaving Society swim instructor certification.

“Community members are encouraged to connect with customer service staff at the Woolwich Memorial Centre to gather more information about aquatic positions and the training required. Lifeguards are an essential part of any community, encouraging water safety and healthy lifestyles,” said Malcolm.

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