Drowning Research

The Lifesaving Society has been researching and reporting on drowning and preventable water-related deaths in Ontario since 1989 - and since 1990, for each province and nationally. This research provides a comprehensive fact base on the drowning problem to guide the Society and others in developing drowning prevention solutions.

The drowning research process involves data collection, research tabulation and analysis, and development of reports. A data collection form and process is used to extract the water-related deaths data from the offices of the Chief Coroners and Medical Examiners in each province. The scope of this research:

  • Collects the data needed to profile victims of aquatic incidents, including the circumstances and contributing factors under which these incidents occurred.
  • Includes all deaths in each province and Canada overall resulting from incidents "in, on or near water"; "near-water" incidents were included if the incident was closely related to water-based recreational, vocational or daily living activity, or if the presence of water appeared to be an attraction contributing to the incident.
  • Includes only preventable (unintentional) deaths. It does not include deaths due to natural causes, suicide, or homicide.

Research on New canadians

In 2010, the Lifesaving Society commissioned an Ipsos Reid research study to gain insight into the influence ethnicity has on attitudes and behaviours around water safety. Despite plans by more than 79% of new Canadians to be in and around the water during the summer, they are 4 times more likely to be unable to swim than those born in Canada.

In 2011, the Society conducted focus groups with new Canadians to gain further insight into their initial findings. The 2011 focus group results support findings from the 2010 study. In fact, focus group participants said they are drawn to the water and want to be a part of what they call the 'real Canadian' experience.

Views on swimming

  • 73% of new Canadians feel it is important to know how to swim when you live in Canada because there is so much water.
  • 74% of new Canadians enjoy swimming for fun and recreation.
  • 71% of new Canadians see swimming as a safe activity for themselves and 78% see it as a safe activity for their children.

Views on swimming lessons

Many parents commented on the desire for their children to take advantage of what Canadian culture has to offer, and in particular, to enjoy swimming as part of 'nature and the great outdoors'. They perceive swimming as part of the recreational culture in Canada and see the benefits for their children in terms of exercise and developing a life skill.

  • Only 41% of new Canadians have taken formal swimming lessons but most want their children to have lessons
  • 60% of parents with children between the ages of five and 15 reported that their child had participated in swimming lessons

Despite not having taken formal lessons themselves, most parents consider lessons for their children a priority. Value was placed on lessons that were considered 'high quality', that had a system of levels or standards to mark progress and celebrate achievement, and that provided lessons on how to be safe around water as well as learning how to swim.

Muslim respondents

  • 57% of Muslim respondents felt that their religion or culture has an impact on what they wear when swimming and close to 50% felt that it has an impact on who they are able to swim with and where they can swim

There were some concerns raised by Muslim parents about public swimming lessons that didn't/failed to address cultural and religious issues such as appropriate swimming attire and separation of boys and girls. Parents are interested in female only lessons, with female instructors.