College accepting applications for free PSW program

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Confederation College is now accepting applications for the new and free Personal Support Worker (PSW) program.

The province of Ontario provided province-wide funding to have 6,000 students enrol in a six-months accelerated program. Prior to this, students would need eight months to complete the PSW program. Successful applicants will be given funding support for textbooks, a paid work placement and be spared the burden of tuition fees.

This was done in collaboration with Colleges Ontario to have the provincial government provide $115 million to train new PSWs to support the high demand for jobs in the health and long-term care sectors. This is part of the provincial government’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, which is a large driver of the PSW recruitment in the province.

Those who are already enrolled in a PSW program will receive $2,000 in grants to help them complete their studies along with a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of the training.

Anne Renaud, dean of the School of Access and Success at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, said the accelerated program is the same curriculum as the non-accelerated one. The only difference is that students will have their degree in six months.

“The first semester is going to be the coursework, the more of the theory portions, and then the second semester is going to be the hands on placements,” Renaud said. “It’s a little more intensive and compressed program in two 12-week semesters.”

In the intensive program, Renaud said, there is an expectation that students will be attending class for more hours per week. Confederation College campuses will be putting supports in place to help students through tutoring and mentoring, Renaud added.

Renaud said this new funding does not only lift the burden of tuition fees by offering two additional intakes of the program in May and June and having the graduates graduate in a very short time, it also responds to the increased need for PSWs in northwestern Ontario communities.

The first round of student intake will be on May 10 and the second round is on June 14. There are places for 40 students who could be eligible for the free tuition. The first round has entered a waitlist, according to the Confederation College website, but space is still open for the June cohort.

“We are looking for people that are interested in working with people. People that are caring, compassionate, and really want to help people, because this is really a helper type of position,” Renaud said. “They’re going to assist people in the daily tasks of living, whether that’s in long-term care or in home and community care. They’re going to work with the team of healthcare providers.”

Given there is always a need for PSW in northwestern Ontario due to the aging population, Renaud said, this course creates a lot of opportunities for graduates because they are often successful and very quick to gain employment.

However, a PSW position could be very challenging. Renaud said resourceful and energetic people who want to work in challenging situations are very well-suited for this position.

“I think it’s a very challenging position in some ways, but also very rewarding in many ways,” Renaud said. “They get to work with people, they have to like working with people, helping people. They can make a very big difference in the life of people in their work.”