The Ontario government is planning to spend more than four million dollars to help train hundreds of personal support workers (PSWs).
Long-term care minister Dr. Merilee Fullerton says the money will go to the regions hardest hit by the pandemic and will help train 373 new PSWs.
She’s also encouraging more people to enter the profession.
“It’s an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people. What our PSWs do matters,” Fullerton said Monday.
“And I am so grateful for all of the work that our frontline health care heroes do each and every day.”
In total, the funding is supporting eight projects, including:
- $295,500 for Canadore College to connect 20 unemployed job seekers from the local Ontario Works caseload with PSW training.
- $941,000 for the Canadian Career Academy of Business & Technology Inc to support the Pathway2PSW project in Lanark and Renfrew Counties in training 60 participants. This project features a health care assessment, formal health care training, and virtual reality learning.
- $265,810 to Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology to provide employers with up to 20 job-ready, skilled workers and provide participants with employment and training services in the health care sector.
The government says some of the projects are already underway, while others will start in the spring.
“Modernizing long-term care means making it a better place for residents to live, and a better place for staff to work, which we will achieve through coordinated partnerships and programs across government,” Fullerton added.
The government says some money will also be used to develop educational resources meant to reduce P-S-Ws’ exposure to infections.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath is pushing the province to give all PSWs a $4-dollar an hour raise.
She introduced a motion again Monday but premier Doug Ford and Progressive Conservative MPPs voted against it.
The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) responded to the Ford government, saying over 300 new PSWs would not be enough to improve care in one middle-sized town, “let alone across nine regions encompassing half the population of the province.”
“Moreover, the Ford government has still done nothing to improve the wages and working conditions of long-term care staff so that new staff can be retained in this sector, where, even prior to the pandemic, there were severe shortages and very serious problems with care levels,” said OHC in a release.
OHC estimates that with a minimum of 4-hours of care per resident per day, Ontario would need just under 21,000 full-time equivalent staff (FTEs) including PSWs for existing long-term care beds.
“There is a humanitarian crisis in Ontario’s long-term care homes. Residents are going without proper feeding and hydration, baths, foot care, repositioning, rehabilitation – the very basics of care – let alone not having their psychological, social, and cultural needs met,” said executive director Natalie Mehra.
“We have never, in all of our years advocating in long-term care, seen such a widespread and profound staffing and care crisis. In context, this announcement is so inadequate as to be unconscionable.”