Newcomers to Canada have a higher risk of drowning in boating and swimming mishaps than those born in the country, a study has found.

The study, commissioned by the Lifesaving Society, focused on newcomers from China, South Asia and Southeast Asia, and found people in Canada for less than five years are at highest risk of drowning.

Even though 20 per cent of immigrants said they cannot swim, 79 per cent reported to the study that they planned to spend time around or on the water this summer.

They could be putting themselves at risk by making those plans, considering a third of the respondents who weren't born in Canada are afraid of water and half worry their kids could drown, said Lifesaving Society spokeswoman Barbara Byers.

Just four per cent of Canadian respondents said they couldn’t swim.

Immigrants may come from landlocked countries or may have received little water safety training, so they could be unaware of how dangerous water can be, she said.

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