New study examines financial costs of drownings in Great Lakes

Drownings take a costly emotional toll on loved ones, and in Ontario, new research is also showing the economic cost.

According to the University of Windsor, the cost over the past 10 year is approximately $400 million dollars.

“It is having a significant economic burden on the province and all the states around the Great Lakes region, upwards of $1.3 billion,” says Chris Houser, research at the University of Windsor.

The study is intended to inform safety water policy.

“An average of 50 people per year drown in the Great Lakes as a result of the waves and the currents,” says Houser.

The study used a calculation referred to as the “value of a statistical life year.”

“In that, the majority of people who drown are young and as a result they have many years ahead of them in terms lost wages, lost taxes,” Houser tells CTV News.

The calculation is in addition to the cost of emergency services and hospitalizations related to drownings.

“The problem with those types of measurements is that they’re never really recorded as to how many helicopter hours, how many people were involved in which it’s very difficult to make that estimate.”

Ontario Provincial Police say multiple resources are used in a rescue mission on the water because saving lives is top priority.

“There’s a report we have from Aug. 22, marine related fatalities in the province of Ontario,” says Constable Steve Duguay. “Each incident is very specific and they’re unique in their own way.”

Houser hopes his research can help shed a light on the need for a solution to help bring down the number of drownings.

“One of the things we need is a regional and provincial educational strategy as well we need more lifeguards on our beaches.”

Duguay says education remains a focal point for OPP.

“We try to at the beginning of the season and usually coming up to long weekends where we know there’s going to be an increased traffic on our waterways.”