This summer, the City of Toronto is prioritizing staffing at the City’s 55 outdoor pools and 10 beaches amid lifeguard certification delays across North America caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately 2,200 staff are required to deliver aquatic programs at beaches, outdoor pools, indoor pools and wading pools in Toronto. The City requires approximately 1,000 lifeguards to supervise beaches, as well as outdoor and indoor pool operations, in addition to staff to supervise wading pools. Currently, the City has approximately 700 lifeguards ready to supervise all 55 of the City’s outdoor and indoor pools and up to 10 beaches this season. As of Thursday, June 30, the City’s outdoor pools will begin full-schedule operations when the school year ends and the City’s wading pools are scheduled to open.
To ensure all facilities would be staffed with lifeguards amid the certification delays, the City worked ahead this year to recruit and hire qualified staff as soon as possible. This has ensured that the vast majority of indoor and outdoor pool instruction programs can safely operate and lifeguards can be present at all City beaches and pools throughout the summer.
Certification courses are required to be a lifeguard or swim instructor. It takes over 100 hours of training to become a lifeguard and an additional 40 hours of training to become a swim instructor. It takes eight hours for lifeguards to become recertified, which is required every two years to maintain a current National Lifeguard award.
Mandatory certification and recertification programs across North America were paused for swim instructors and lifeguards while COVID-19 protections were in place. Facilities where training typically takes place were closed to help stop virus spread. Anticipating staffing issues, the City began recruitment efforts in January and safely made facilities available specifically for certification training. The City continues to recruit and hire qualified aquatic staff at an enhanced rate to deliver its many programs.
The City is working to fast-track instructor training throughout the summer with leadership development programs available during weekend and week-long expedited courses throughout June and July. Additional courses are planned for the remainder of the year.
Currently, there are 196 instructors confirmed and available to teach 1,919 courses, which will support nearly 11,400 registered participants. Starting today, due to the staffing shortages caused by certification delays, the City will begin to cancel 169 courses affecting approximately 1,140 participants, for which swim instructors have not yet been confirmed. The City is continuing to recruit swim instructors as quickly as possible to support programming.
Registrants will be contacted individually and offered either a full refund or a program credit if a suitable replacement program is not found. Information about recreation program options for affected residents is available by calling 416-396-7378 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by calling 311.
Every effort was made to minimize cancellations and, where possible, staff are combining programs with low registration numbers and allocating staff to higher-demand programs. In addition, staff will register participants in alternate nearby programs if space becomes available. Staff often rebalance classes in this way following registration.
More information on the City’s aquatics programs and swimming locations is at Toronto.ca/swim.
Please note, this news release was updated on June 23, 2022 to make a correction to the number of lifeguards needed to supervise beaches, as well as outdoor and indoor pool operations, in addition to staff to supervise wading pools.
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