BY KELLY ROCHE
Immigrant kids aged 11 to 14 are five times more likely to be unable to swim than their Canadian-born counterparts, the Lifesaving Society announced Tuesday.
The study also finds despite these figures, 93 per cent of new Canadian ‘tweens’ say they participate in activities in, on or around water, with 48 per cent saying their parents think learning to swim isn’t very important.
“We want to encourage families who are new to Canada to make learning to swim a part of their Canadian experience,” said public education director Barbara Byers.
Timing is key — an estimated 30,000 Syrian refugees are celebrating their first Canada Day on Friday, according to the federal government.
In the City of Mississauga, “our learn to swim programs range from preschool to adult and 57,000 register for these programs per year,” said district manager of recreation Jodi Robillos.
There’s also a Swim to Survive program, with 5,500 students taking part annually.
City staff hosted an event geared toward Syrian refugees about a month ago at the Mississauga Valley Community Centre, Robillos said, using a translator to give a tour and explain the types of programs offered.
In light of the new statistics, “fortunately we have not had any fatalities in our city pools. Our pools are guarded at all times by certified lifeguards,” she said.
The 2016 Canadian Drowning Report indicates 20-to-24-year-olds have one of the highest drowning rates.