Ontario Launches Pilot Program to Train Personal Support Workers

In Provincial

Investment is part of the province’s historic long-term care staffing plan

The Ontario government is providing $2.4 million to train up to 300 personal support workers for positions in long-term care homes in the Ottawa area. The pilot scholarship program is being delivered in partnership with Willis College and will be offered at no cost to accepted applicants. This initiative is part of the province’s historic long-term care staffing plan released in December 2020.

Our ambitious staffing plan is part of our government’s commitment to solving the long-standing and systemic challenges the long-term care sector has faced after decades of neglect and underfunding,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “By working closely with partners like Willis College, we will deliver on our promise to provide our loved ones with the quality of life they deserve. I want to congratulate those students who are beginning a rewarding career in long-term care.”

A Better Place to Live; A Better Place to Work: Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan is the province’s plan to increase the hours of direct care for residents to an average of four hours per day over four years, making the province a leader in Canada. To help meet this commitment, the plan sets out actions to hire more staff, improve working conditions for existing staff, drive effective and accountable leadership, and implement retention strategies.

As part of the new pilot program, the province will invest up to $2.4 million to fund the training costs of up to 300 students, starting in January 2021. Following a unique delivery model, this program will pair four days of academic instruction with one day of volunteer experience at a long-term care home per week.  By experiencing real-world situations prior to clinical placements, students will not only gain a stronger understanding of the long-term-care sector, but will also be better prepared to transition smoothly into the workforce upon graduation.

“Willis College is honoured to be participating in this special PSW Scholarship initiative,” said Henry Devlin, President and CEO, Willis College. “We would like to thank the Ontario government and our care home partners for helping hundreds of individuals pursue an exciting PSW career.”

Personal support workers are unsung heroes,” said Rima Aristocrat, Chair, Willis College. “Being part of the Ontario government’s plan to ease the burden on long-term care is indeed an honour. Willis College will provide highly trained PSWs, who in turn will become an asset in the fight against COVID-19.”

The 30-week-long program meets the current Ontario standard (2014) for PSW certificate education programs. The first cohort of 30 students begins classes this month.


Acting on expert recommendations, and building on the government’s 2020 Ontario budget commitment to increase hours of daily direct care to an average of four hours per day for each long-term care resident, the new staffing plan focuses on six key areas of action to be delivered over four years:

  • Investing up to $1.9 billion annually by 2024-25 to create more than 27,000 new positions for personal support workers, registered nurses and registered practical nurses in long-term care to meet the direct care commitment; in addition, providing a 20 per cent increase in direct care time administered by other health care professionals such as physiotherapists and social workers.
  • Accelerating and expanding education and training pathways in order to prepare and train the tens of thousands of new staff that will be required.
  • Supporting continued professional development and growth of long-term care staff to improve retention.
  • Improving working conditions for staff by coordinating with long-term care employers to increase full-time employment and promote innovative approaches to work and technology.
  • Driving effective and accountable leadership in homes across the province to improve oversight, guidance and medical outcomes in long-term care homes.
  • Measuring progress against key performance indicators.

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Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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