Drowning is a preventable public health problem. It is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, and a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality in Canada. On average, approximately 500 people fatally drown in Canada each year, and even more suffer a non-fatal drowning incident; often resulting in long-term consequences.

In 2014, the World Health Organization released the Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer. The goal of that report was to galvanize attention for the drowning issue by highlighting how preventable drowning is, and how collaboration across sectors can save lives1.

The Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition was formed in response to the call to action from the World Health Organization’s report. Drowning is a multisectoral issue that requires partnership among all stakeholders. The purpose of the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition is to establish and implement a long-term multisectoral plan to reduce drowning in Canada.

Drowning threatens all populations, but the risks parallel many social determinants of health, disproportionally affecting Indigenous peoples, new immigrants, the elderly, and rural populations. Fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents impact not only the individual, but families and entire communities. In 2010, drowning cost Canadians $187 million.2 This figure is the result of 369 deaths, 247 hospitalizations, 1,251 emergency room visits, 37 permanent partial disabilities, 4 total disabilities; and over $175 million dollars in indirect costs.2

This document is the first edition of the Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan. The Plan is dynamic and will change as often as every six months to reflect the progress of data, actions, and outcomes.

Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan – First Edition – 6 Oct 2017