P.E.I. lifeguard staff back to pre-pandemic numbers

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P.E.I. is hiring a full staff of 45 lifeguards this summer for its provincial park beaches. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. is hiring a full staff of 45 lifeguards this summer for its provincial park beaches. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

Islanders and tourists can be sure they'll be fully supervised by lifeguards this summer when they hit the beach at a provincial park.

When tourist numbers were lower than usual last year during P.E.I.'s first COVID-19 summer, the province only hired 40 lifeguards as opposed to the usual 45, said Matt Smith, provincial lifeguard co-ordinator.

But with borders already open to Atlantic Canadians, and vaccinated travellers from outside the region able to visit the Island earlier than expected, P.E.I. decided to hire a full staff of 45 lifeguards again for the summer.

"The tourism industry is starting to kick back up again," said Smith.

Smith said with a full staff, the province can ensure "everyone around the Island has a [supervised] beach to be able to go to."

While the province still had lifeguards at all the usual locations last summer, Smith said this summer's full staff will allow for a manageable lifeguard-to-patron ratio with the larger tourist crowd that's expected.

'Taxing on the body and the mind'

There are eight provincial park beaches the province hires lifeguards to supervise. Some of those beaches are located at Panmure Island, Chelton Beach and Cedar Dunes provincial parks.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

Lifeguards are also present at the Brudenell River Provincial Park pool. The beaches and pool are supervised seven days a week for the whole summer.

"It can be quite taxing on the body and the mind to sit on the lifeguard chair throughout the hot days," Smith said.

According to Smith, all of the province's summer lifeguards are students, who are given full-time hours for the entire season.

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