To meet its commitment to provide four hours of daily direct care to long-term care residents, Ontario needs many, many more personal support workers (PSWs) to make that promise possible. Today, the province announced it would spend $115 million to train 8,200 new PSWs, most in accelerated programs to get them trained and on the job as quickly as possible.
At a news conference today, Premier Doug Ford was joined by Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton and Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano to make the announcement.
“I said we would fix a broken system and this is how we will do it,” Ford said.
In collaboration with Colleges Ontario, the province said all 24 publicly assisted colleges will start offering the program starting in April.
Through the Accelerated PSW Training Program, the province said it will offer tuition-free PSW education for 6,000 new students, training that will be completed in six months rather than the typical eight months.
After three months of coursework, including on-the-job learning in a clinical setting, Ontario will have these students “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. Applications are expected to open in early March.
Tuition assistance in the form of a $2,000 grant is also being offered to students who are close to finishing an existing PSW program at a publicly funded Ontario college. This will be extended to close to 2,200 students 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," Fullerton said in a news release. "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."
Ontario announced a plan in December to increase the number of hours of direct care for LTC residents to an average of four hours per day (over four years).
On Monday, the province announced it was investing more than $4.1 million to help train 373 new PSWs and provide them with additional health and safety resources.