The Ontario government is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors. In collaboration with Colleges Ontario, all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this innovative, fully funded program starting in April 2021. This is part of the government’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, one of the largest PSW recruitment and training drives in the province’s history.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities.
“We are taking monumental steps to protect our most vulnerable and provide the highest quality of care when and where residents need it,” said Premier Ford. “We will achieve this by recruiting and training some of our best and brightest to be PSWs. This will improve the quality of life for our seniors and begin to correct the decades of neglect in this sector.”
The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students and is expected to take only six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months. After three months of coursework, and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. Registration for the program will be available through the Ontario College Application Service and is expected to open in early March.
The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing PSW program at one of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training.
“Today’s announcement is another major step towards hiring enough Personal Support Workers to provide the nation-leading four hours on average of direct daily care to residents,” said Minister Merrilee Fullerton. “Modernizing long-term care requires innovative solutions and programs that allow us to recruit and train PSWs quickly so that they can begin their meaningful work caring for our loved ones.”
The Province launched A Better Place to Live, A Better Place to Work: Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, in December of last year.At the centre of this plan, the hours of direct care for residents will be increasing to an average of four hours per day over four years. To implement this initiative, the government is making immediate overall investments of $1.9 billion annually by 2024-2025.
“Personal support workers have played a critical role in caring for some of our most vulnerable Ontarians throughout the pandemic, and our government continues to use every tool at its disposal to protect Ontarians and support our frontline workers,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This new program will stabilize and strengthen our PSW workforce so that patients can receive high-quality care when and where they need it.”
In addition to launching this multi-year plan, the government invested nearly $540 million, announced in the fall of last year, to ramp up surveillance testing, increase Infection Prevention and Control personnel, increase PPE supplies, and continue building a strong health care workforce at long-term care homes across the province.