The Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service is a joint project of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Lifesaving Society, Nova Scotia Branch.
The Premier of Nova Scotia created the Office of Health Promotion in December 2002 to improve the health of Nova Scotians. The Office was formed by bringing together the former Sport and Recreation Commission with aspects of the Population Health branch of the Department of Health. In 2011, the Office of Health Promotion and Protection became the Department of Health and Wellness. Nova Scotia Health and Wellness provides funding to operate the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service's core supervision and is responsible for beach selection and program promotion.
The Lifesaving Society is a national volunteer organization and registered charity, composed of tens of thousands of individual members and over 2,000 affiliated aquatic facilities, municipalities, waterfronts and schools. The Lifesaving Society, Nova Scotia Branch, administers the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service and is responsible for hiring a program Director, hiring lifeguards, and overseeing quality control of the program.
Originally named the "Nova Scotia Beach Supervision Program", the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service was created as a result of a 1972 study by Dr. James Bayer that pointed out the need to reduce the high number of drownings and related incidents at beaches in Nova Scotia. The province originally contracted with the Canadian Red Cross Society to administer the program. In 1975, a full-time coordinator was hired and the Beach Supervision Program changed its name to the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service (NSLS).
In 1999, the province of Nova Scotia entered a new partnership with Lifesaving Society to jointly operate the NSLS. Today, the NSLS is registered as an independant non-profit society and is directed by a volunteer Board of Directors which includes representation from the Office of Health Promotion and the Lifesaving Society.