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‘Profound’ care crisis; Critics say PSW training push not enough

Posted: February 24, 2021

(February 23, 2021)

By: Elizabeth Payne, Ottawa Sun (Print Edition)

An innovative Ottawa program that matches people who have difficulty entering the workforce with jobs will train up to 120 personal support workers in the next 10 months.

The Earn as You Learn program run by Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre in conjunction with two career colleges will provide training and support for workers to help fill gaps for personal support workers. People taking part in the program will be able to work, either in long-term or home care, while they train – first as a residential care assistant, then with more training as a home support worker and finally as a personal support worker, said Rhonda Beauregard, manager of the program.

The Pinecrest-Queensway program is one of eight PSW training programs announced by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monday. The Pinecrest-Queensway program will receive almost half of the $4 million funding that made up the announcement.

Earlier this year, the Ontario government funded another Ottawa-based program, at Willis College, that expects to train up to 300 PSWs.

But critics say Ontario is moving far too slowly to address the crisis in long-term care and has yet to reveal any overall staffing plan for the sector which has been the hardest hit during the pandemic.

“There is a humanitarian crisis in Ontario’s long-term care homes. Residents are going without proper feeding and hydration, baths, foot care, repositioning, rehabilitation – the very basics of care – let alone not having their psychological, social, and cultural needs met,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the advocacy group, the Ontario Health Coalition.

“We have never, in all of our years advocating in long-term care, seen such a widespread and profound staffing and care crisis. In context, this announcement is so inadequate as to be unconscionable.”

Others called the funding, to date, a drop in the bucket and questioned why the province has not released a plan to train PSWs to fill existing gaps as well as the 27,000 new positions the province has committed to creating for personal support workers over the next four years. Those additional positions will be needed when long-term care homes are required under law to provide four hours of hands-on care every day to each long-term care resident.

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