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Labour shortage among lifeguards, swim instructors a province wide issue

June 22, 2022
By Globe Newswire


As summer approaches and families look forward to recreation at Edmonton’s swimming pools or the province’s many lakes, the issue of water safety comes to the forefront. But over the past year, pool and waterfront operators across the province have felt the strain of a major labour shortage when it comes to lifeguards and swim instructors.

YMCA of Northern Alberta, which operates four major recreation centres with very busy swimming lesson programs, currently employs 123 lifeguards and swim instructors in Edmonton. Like many other pool operators, they are desperate for more – pre-pandemic, they employed roughly 240 aquatics staff.

“In April, we received a grant that allowed us to provide free lifesaving and swim instructor training to 40 young people,” says Kent Bittorf, Vice President of Health, Fitness and Aquatics for the YMCA. “Getting people the training they need to be able to hire them to work at the Y was critical to us teaching the important life skill of swimming to families in our community.”

Pool and waterfront operators need additional supports from municipal and provincial governments to continue to train more people in the field of lifesaving and aquatics.

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“The jobs are there. We’d love to fill them. We just need people with the right certifications, and not all people have access to that training or can cover the costs themselves,” Bittorf explains.

The YMCA believes that support for the aquatics recreation industry would allow more children to learn the valuable skill of swimming – a skill that could prevent serious injury or death as they enjoy the water this summer. It would also provide more jobs for those who need a flexible work schedule or are looking for part-time work, something many people in the province are looking for.


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