Two Hamilton-area sites are among the recipients of new provincial funding to train more workers for long-term care, but critics say it’s not nearly enough.
ParaMed Inc. and Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology are both set to receive funds as part of a provincial announcement to train 373 more personal support workers (PSWs) in Ontario. Eight projects were announced Monday, with the two local projects expected to train up to 50 PSWs.
Staffing has been an ongoing problem in long-term care exacerbated by the pandemic, with greater demand for workers once residents become sick, and staff getting COVID-19 or leaving the sector.
The project at Mohawk is expected to produce up to 20 “job-ready” workers who would receive access to employment and training services in health care. The province designated $265,810 for the project which runs from April 1 to Nov. 30.
Home care company ParaMed Inc., in Burlington and Hamilton, was allotted $64,196 for 30 participants to take a fast-track PSW program at Conestoga College. That project began Feb. 15 and will run to July 10.
An additional $249,981 will go to research spearheaded by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto to develop support resources for PSWs. CARE+ is expected to include education on infection prevention and control and other resources, including what to do if a PSW or their close contact gets sick with COVID-19. The resources would be shared with workers at 48 homes, as well as online provincewide.
However, the Ontario Health Coalition said the announcement is “so inadequate as to be unconscionable.”
“This number of PSWs would not be enough to improve care in one middle-sized town, let alone across nine regions encompassing half the population of the province,” the group said in a release.
The coalition estimates that to provide four hours of daily care to each resident — which the province has promised by 2024-25 — Ontario needs the equivalent of roughly 20,800 additional full-time staff, including PSWs and nurses, for existing long-term-care beds.
If the 15,000 new long-term-care beds promised by the province are included, the group said that number would be about 33,700 full-time staff, or 44,900 full-time and part-time workers combined.
Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator