Full Tuition, Earn-as-You-Learn Program for PSWs a Major Benefit to Ontario’s Long Term Care
The provincial government has committed to training and hiring 6,000 new personal support workers
Cambridge, ON— CLAC is pleased with the significant commitment made by the Ontario government to train and hire 6,000 new personal support workers (PSWs) in 2021, effectively doubling the number of PSWs to be trained.
Support will include full tuition payment and wages during placements for experiential learning. This earn-as-you-learn approach will remove barriers to becoming a PSW and serves as a major first instalment toward finding the tens of thousands of PSWs who are needed in long term care (LTC). This funded tuition and paid learning experience is comparable to the support that is provided to apprentices in the skilled trades.
In recent months, the province has committed to a four-hour standard of nursing and personal care per day for residents in LTC and the addition of 15,000 LTC beds. According to Ian DeWaard, CLAC Ontario director, today’s PSW training and recruitment announcement is a bold and significant step in securing the thousands of workers needed to ensure that dignified care is provided by qualified staff who have the time to do their job well.
A staffing study released in 2020 by the Ministry of Long-Term Care cited a significant turnover and retention problem in the province’s LTC sector. It reported that 40 percent of new recruits leave within their first year and that more than 25 percent of PSWs with two or more years of experience leave LTC annually. The province estimates that more than 20,000 PSWs are needed in the next four years to meet the four-hour standard and to support the newly added beds.
CLAC is applauding this significant effort and believes that it indicates the provincial government understands the monumental task ahead. “Today’s announcement is an unprecedented investment that will have major impact on resident care and working conditions in long term care facilities,” says DeWaard. “While more effort will be needed, this government is injecting real and long-overdue dollars into the sector, when for 10 years we’ve seen nothing but nickels and dimes.”
CLAC continues to urge the government to also address the importance of a fair, competitive wage standard for PSWs and to increase the number of full-time job opportunities in LTC. Wages for workers in this sector have been suppressed by recurring wage restraint legislation, and workers in LTC earn less today than they did 10 years ago, when adjusted for inflation. Temporary wage enhancements introduced during the pandemic are set to expire in March, and the organization believes these measures should be made permanent for all PSWs and other workers in long term care.
CLAC also notes that in recent years there has been an unnecessary increased reliance on part-time positions in LTC, which negatively impacts working conditions and retention.
For more information regarding CLAC’s 2021 prebudget submission outlining the needs of Ontario’s long term care sector, please visit the organization’s website.