The Ontario government has unveiled a new tuition-free program for those looking to break into the province’s health and long-term care sectors.
More than $115 million has been earmarked by the province to see the enrollment of 6,000 new students into their Accelerated Personal Support Worker (PSW) Training Program being offered at all 24 publicly-assisted colleges in Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton and Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano on Wednesday.
“These initiatives will lead to historic improvements in the quality of life and care for our seniors,” Ford said.
“I said we would fix this broken system and this is how we’re going to do it.”
The funding stems from the province’s previously announced long-term care overhaul strategy, dubbed “A better place to live, a better place to work: Ontario’s long-term care staffing plan,” which will see $1.9 billion pumped into the sector over the course of 10 years beginning between 2024 and 2025.
Also part of Wednesday’s announcement is news that some 2,200 existing PSW students will be eligible to receive a tuition grant of $2,000 to assist them in completing their studies.
“We are committed to providing an average of four hours of daily direct care to all [long-term care] residents and to achieve this, we will need many more PSWs,” Fullerton said.
“We will be looking to all our training partners to bring forward innovative solutions so we can get our seniors the best care in the country.”
Long-term care homes have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic since it began last January. Since then, 14,937 residents have contracted the virus and 3,860 have died—representing more than half of all COVID-19-related fatalities in Ontario.
The accelerated program, which the province claims is one of the largest PSW recruitment and training drives in Ontario’s history, is slated to begin in April 2021 and students are expected to complete their studies in six months.
Traditionally, training programs in the sector take eight months to complete, according to the province.
Those interested in the program can register here. Applications are expected to open in early March.