Ontario announces $100 million for training and retention of long-term-care home staff

By Amanda Modaragamage
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Stratford Times

The Ontario government is investing $100 million to improve training and retention of staff in long-term-care homes across the province.

On Jan. 31, Perth-Wellington MPP Matthew Rae joined Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Stan Cho at Spruce Lodge Active Living Centre in Stratford to announce that the province’s intention to invest in the training and retention of more than 32,000 new personal support workers (PSWs) and nurses in long-term care over the next three years.

The investments are part of the government’s Your Health plan to recruit and retain tens of thousands of long-term care staff over the coming years.

“Our Premier, our minister and our entire branch of government is focused on building more long-term care homes,” said Rae. “Over 900 beds will be right here in Perth County. We’re also ensuring we have the health-care human resources to care for our seniors living in these homes.”

Ontario is said to be investing $94.5 million over three years to extend the Preceptor Resource and Education Program for Long-Term Care. With the new investment, the program aims to train more than 3,000 new preceptors and support 31,000 new clinical placements by 2027.

“Let’s not sugarcoat the challenge we face in this province,” said Cho. “When we say we’re building 50,000 new and redeveloped homes [beds], they’re not homes unless you have a team of health-care professionals and the resources behind it.

“We know that, globally, that supply chain is challenged right now. It’s a hands-on effort from … the ministry of long-term care and the ministry of health.”

Ontario is also said to be investing nearly $11 million over three years to expand Living Classrooms, a program that helps students train to become PSWs on-site in local long-term care homes.

With this investment, the program aims to double the number of living classrooms from 20 to 40, which will support training up to 1,300 new personal support workers by 2026. Through this program, the Government of Ontario also aims to retain nurses and PSWs through financial incentives.

“Ontario has invested $300 million to provide incentives for PSWs to enter and stay within the long-term-care system,” said Cho. “Specifically, $5,400 as an allowance while a PSW is in their clinical placement, a $10,000 bonus if you stay within the long-term-care sector for 12 months, and an additional $10,000 if you go to a rural or northern community. As you can see, the total investment for a PSW student is a little over $25,000.

“That’s not all we’re doing to try and retain talent within the long-term care setting. We also have the LEAP program, which is a $100 million investment to allow PSWs in the system to scale their skills up to an RPN or (from) RPN to RN so that we can maintain that talent.

“This is not going to solve the problem. We need more and we are working with the federal government to continue to try and address the problems we face here in Ontario.”

The government of Ontario is hoping to fix long-term care to ensure Ontario’s seniors get the quality of care and quality of life they need and deserve. The plan is built on four pillars: staffing and care; quality and enforcement; building modern, safe and comfortable homes; and connecting seniors with faster, more convenient access to the services they need.