September 25, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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White-headed Defenders | The Journal of Montreal

White-headed Defenders |  The Journal of Montreal

Many retired people have been rescued to make up for the shortage of lifeguards at swimming pools and other water points in Quebec.

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“I was immersed in my teenage world, sums up 53-year-old Mary Lauforest. This is the first time I’ve seen lifeguards with whiteheads. ⁇

Since January, the stay-at-home mother has returned to her youthful job by working for a company called Sophire, which provides lifeguards to the Beloil, Saint-Julie and Chambli watersheds in Monterrey.

From 2021, the company will provide training intended exclusively for retirees, allowing these water centers to operate generous time slots even though there are no lifeguards throughout Quebec.

The Life Saving Society in Quebec estimates that 2,000 people are missing Life Guards. The existing labor shortage before the COVID-19 epidemic was exacerbated by the cancellation of training for young lifeguards for health reasons. Hence teenagers tend to be less numerous around swimming pools.


When the first batch of retirees appeared on lifeguard chairs in the fall of 2021, many bathers were shocked, reports Karen Pauline, Aquatic Manager at Sophire.

“People said to us: ‘Is this a white head? Can he do that?’ ⁇

Then, “one thing leads to another”, things snowball and other retirees raised their hands.

In other cities, Reynold Hawkins, director general of the Quebec Life Saving Society, confirmed that recruitment programs are multiplying to target this population.

It is not uncommon for water resources centers to say, “I have no lifeguards during the day,” he said, explaining that this old workforce would help fill in the gaps in students’ schedules to go to school.

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Tip top shaped

Solange Bedard, 62, and her husband, Franకోois Pare, 64, embarked on the expedition after learning that their grandson’s swimming lessons had been canceled due to a lack of a lifeguard.

“I said to myself: ‘That doesn’t mean there are no more lifeguards.’ We always hear it is sinking, ”explained a retiree from the Health Network.

To whom, like all senior lifeguards Newspaper Speaking of which, the couple are in great shape.

Sylvie Rosignol, 66, believes that not everyone has the tests needed to become a lifeguard.

Sylvie Rosignol

Photo by Martin Allari

Sylvie Rosignol

“For the elderly, the needs are enormous,” explained a former manager who works at the Granby and Cowanville swimming pools in the eastern townships.

Putting her 50m sprint on the water seemed like a challenge to her. Others say bringing 20lb of brick from the deep end of the pool can be a daunting task.

Sepak is also a victim of scarcity

“Swimming at your own risk”: This is a warning that the Society of Outdoor Establishments of Quebec (CEPAC) must install on a growing number of beaches.

“Due to the difficulty in recruiting lifeguards, the supervised swimming pool at the Lock-Kenogami Tourist Center has been withdrawn in recent years. [2019]In the Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve [2020] And in Mont-Tremblant National Park [2021]. Point-Tylon National Park could be added to the list this summer, ”said Sepak spokesman Simon Bovin.

There is no shortage of lifeguards for the public sector.

“The remoteness of certain organizations and the need to temporarily stay on site in certain locations can sometimes hinder the hiring of lifeguards for Sepak,” he said. Hosted by Bovin.

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No promotion

The government hopes to hire 60 lifeguards this summer out of ten of the 46 companies that provide supervised swimming.

Sépaq discourages visitors from swimming in unsupervised areas.

Currently, one of the most beautiful beaches in Quebec, Point-Tylan National Park on the shores of Lock Saint-Jean, is the subject of less promotion this summer.

“What I was told last week was that we do not have lifeguards, we do not promote the beach,” said Mary Rousseau, vice president of the Quebec Public and Para Public Service Union, which represents Sepak. Employees.

Reynold Hawkins, director general of the Quebec Life Saving Society, recalled that less than 1% of drownings occur in areas under surveillance and, last year, in some areas that were not monitored due to a shortage of lifeguards.


Despite a $ 2.50 per hour bonus for all Sepak employees this summer, Ms. Rousseau lamented that his lifeguards were being paid less than elsewhere.

The Journal easily finds job offers of $ 20 per hour, with the starting level at Sepak being $ 15.17 an hour before the bonus.

She wants to be there Canadian Dean

Sylvie Rosignol66, dreamed of becoming the oldest lifeguard in Canada.

“It’s a challenge. It shows me that, despite my age, I’m still in good shape,” a Covansville resident explained.

In 2020, she qualified as a lifeguard in Quebec and now she works at the city’s Aquatic Center but sometimes at Granby as well.

“I like it, but it feels like someone older than me,” she adds.

Verified, the oldest qualified lifeguard in Canada is 80 years old and in Ontario.

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For those in their sixties, occupying this position is a retirement project.

“Swimming is my favorite sport. I spent my life in the swimming pool, ”said the artist who was swimming artistically at the time.

But unlike other lifeguards her age, she has not been able to benefit from the dedicated training of retirees.

“We unite a group of very young people aged 16 or 17 and my age is 64. It’s not very dynamic. Young people are very welcoming, but it needs motivation,” she concludes.

A couple From IronMan Chairs Length

Solange BedardThe 62-year-old began working as a lifeguard in late 2021. She “loved” the experience, which inspired her husband. Franకోois Pare64, who will imitate him next fall.

The couple, who have participated in several Ironman triathlons, had no difficulty qualifying for lifeguard certification, which took almost 100 hours.

“When I retired, I always said I would sell running shoes. But when I saw the Sophie ad, I said to myself:” But yes! ” ⁇

Mr. Pare believes that people his age will be able to maintain an ideal appearance, which will open the door to this type of employment for retirees.

“Today is 60 years 20 years ago 40 years ago, he explains. I, I can not wait to grow up, but I’m not going to be one tomorrow.”

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