The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the critical role that personal support workers play in our healthcare system. The shortage of personal support workers has been growing in recent years and has significantly increased with the current pandemic.
That is why today, the federal government has announced $23.2 million in funding for Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to develop and implement an accelerated online program to train approximately 4,000 new personal support worker interns.
The program includes six weeks of online training followed by a four-month paid work-integrated learning placement with an employer in long-term care or home care. This new training program will be offered at no cost to the trainees. These new personal support worker interns will provide much needed support to long-term care staff, as they receive training on the job.
As part of this project, CICan will work in collaboration with provinces, territories, employers, workers’ organizations, unions and training providers to begin a national dialogue on training standards for the supportive care sector.
This is one part of the government’s comprehensive plan to support workers and the sector. As highlighted in the Fall Economic Statement, the government is committed to working with partners to seek solutions to improve retention, recruitment and retirement savings options for low- and modest-income workers, particularly those without existing workplace pension coverage, including PSWs. The government is also committed to working with provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care.
Additionally, as announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the government proposed to establish a new $1-billion Safe Long-term Care Fund, to better support both those living in long-term care homes and those who work in them.
Helping this sector address the current labour shortage builds on the government’s commitment to make the largest training investment in Canadian history. The focus is on offering opportunities for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to get new skills and start a new career in a growing sector. The new program can serve as a model for accessing skills training for other in-demand jobs in the future, which is vital to Canada’s economic recovery.