In the wake of two tragic surfing deaths this year, a Vancouver Island MP says reinstating a disbanded lifeguard program is a key priority.

Gord Johns, who represents the Courtenay-Alberni riding for the NDP, says after lobbying the federal government he has been given a si down meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary of Environment and Climate Change next week.

“It's clear lives were saved by the Surf Guard program,” Johns told CTV News reporter Scott Cunningham in the days following the surfing death of a 52-year-old Ontario mother in May.

A foreign student studying at the University of Victoria died at the same location, on Long Beach near Lovekin rock in February.

The long-standing Surf Guard lifeguard program, which operated on Long Beach for decades, was disbanded in 2012 as Parks Canada said surfing had become so popular that riders were branching out to multiple beaches.

“When I meet with the Parliamentary Secretary of Environment and Climate Change next week, I will ask for a reinstatement of the Surf Guard program and life guard station by Lovekin Rock,” Johns told CTV. “I hope the government will act quickly on this issue to avoid any more accidents and loss of life."

While two surfing deaths have rocked the Tofino region this year, the B.C. Coroner’s Service says only two suspected drowning deaths related to surfing have been reported in the last decade.

CTV reached out to the ministry of Environment and Climate change for a comment, but did not receive a reply by deadline.