The Government of Ontario is providing a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students for personal support work (PSW) training.
On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford announced that the Accelerated PSW Training Program is expected to take only six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months.
After three months of coursework, and 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.
The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing a 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 component for their training.
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In total the province is investing $115 million for 8,200 students.
“We are taking monumental steps to protect our most vulnerable and provide the highest quality of care when and where residents need it,” said 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.”
Working with Colleges Ontario, all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this program starting in April 2021.
Long-term care and congregate care settings are some of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, with extra staffing support needed.
During the press conference Ford was asked why this wasn’t done sooner to help the sector, and he responded with how his government implemented a temporary wage increase for PSWs as well as increasing time of care for residents to four hours a day.
The NDP criticized Ford’s planning saying his government refused to hire long-term care staff before the second wave hit.
“In the summer of 2020, before the second wave of COVID-19 hit, British Columbia hired and trained 7,000 staff for long-term care. Quebec hired and trained 10,000 staff for long-term care. The Doug Ford government hired and trained virtually none,” said NDP Deputy Leader and Long-Term Care critic Sara Singh in a statement.
“We are one year into this pandemic. As of today, 3,860 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in long-term care homes, and most died alone and in pain. Ford’s plan to wait until 2025 to complete a staff-up is devastatingly slow for nursing home residents and their loved ones.”
Registration for the program will be available through the Ontario College Application Service and is expected to open in early March.