The tuition-free Accelerated Personal Support Worker (PSW) Training Program has been launched by the Ontario Government for residents looking to enter the long-term care field. This program arose from the ‘A better place to live, a better place to work: Ontario’s long-term care staffing plan’ announced in December, which aims to improve long-term care strategies and conditions for both residents and staff.
The new PSW training program is set to begin in April. Its course will run for six months, with over 8,000 expected graduates being able to begin work in October 2021. This program is provided in collaboration with Colleges Ontario, and will be offered by all 24 publicly-assisted Ontario colleges.
According to Krystle Caputo, press secretary for the Minister of Long-Term Care, grants will be provided to students that will cover their full tuition, and funds will also be available for required incidental fees, including necessities such as transportation, child care, and uniforms.
Caputo explains that these approaches to learning, such as the Accelerated PSW Training Program, is one way for the province to accelerate the supply of qualified workers. “This program is an important measure designed to introduce 6,000 new students and support the 2,220 students already in the training to Ontario’s long-term care, home, and community care sectors by the end of 2021,” Caputo says.
“The program will meet a crucial need for PSWs in Ontario, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This supports Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan to increase the daily average of care provided to long-term care residents from 2.75 hours to four hours by 2024-25,” she continues.
Dr. Tamara Daly, professor in the Faculty of Health, says that offering a tuition incentive for this program in order to bring in new students is “exceedingly important”, continuing that better working conditions are also needed to retain current PSWs.
“This means more permanent positions, with access to full-time hours, higher hourly wages, and benefits including a minimum paid sick leave,” she says.
Daly continues that while long-term care work is meaningful, it is also a “difficult, fast-paced, and demanding” field.
“If the pandemic has shown us anything,” Daly states, “it is that we need to take care of our health care workers.”
Throughout the past year, Canadians have seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. To date, 3,759 long-term care residents in Ontario have been killed by the virus since the first outbreak began.
Caputo states that through programs such as the new PSW program, the government “is fixing a broken system and making long-term care a better place for residents to live, and a better place for staff to work.” Interested students can apply for the Accelerated PSW Training Program through the Ontario Colleges applications page.