Paul Calandra, Ontario’s Minister of Long Term Care, announced on Thursday that the government would be investing $16.5 million into the Learn and Earn Accelerated Program for Personal Support Workers in Long-Term Care (LEAP LTC).
The LEAP LTC program is an online program with Humber College that trains existing long-term care staff to become full-time personal support workers.
The Ontario government hopes that the additional funding will train up to 600 new personal support workers.
The province wants to ensure long-term care residents an average of four hours of hands-on care by 2026. Currently, the Ministry says many residents only receive two hours.
“We inherited a system that had many, many difficulties,” Calandra told reporters at a press conference at Humber College.
“Governments of all stripes over many, many years did not make the types of investments that needed to be made in long-term care … We learned during COVID that we had to do better in staffing in our long term care homes,” the minister said.
By the end of July, 55 students will have already graduated from the LEAP LTC program, which launched in 2022-23.
Students like Gloria Ibizugbe, who started the program in September, feel that it is about time that the provincial government recognizes the additional resources that personal support workers require.
“The profession is finally being talked about,” Ibizugbe said. “The work is very rewarding. They’re seeing that we actually do a lot, and it’s nice that they’re thinking about the profession. It means a great deal.”
Humber College’s President and CEO, Anne Marie Vaughan, echoed this sentiment and is proud to see Humber at the forefront of a new initiative to fill a gap in the industry.
“Together, we can help Ontarians in the field move into in-demand roles through online learning and paid clinical placements with their current employer, without have to sacrifice their earnings,” she said.
According to the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, currently, 1 in 2 caregivers in Ontario feel burned out. In 2019-2020, Ontario had the highest caregiver distress rate in Canada, much of which was caused by being overworked and underpaid.
The association says that almost 40,000 people are currently waiting for long-term care in Ontario, but many homes do not have enough trained staff to facilitate the needs of these individuals.