Described as part of the province’s commitment to “modernizing long term care”, Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton announced on Monday an investment of nearly five-million dollars to Conestoga College to help address the need for more trained long-term care workers. That funding will be utilized to deliver a new ‘SkillsAdvance Ontario’ micro-credential program aiming to train eligible individuals as long-term care home assistants.
Speaking during the virtual announcement, Fullerton said the program will be delivered to applicants free of charge, expected to start up as early as next month. The training initiative will be held over seven weeks, including five weeks of “essential and technical skills training” delivered virtually, followed by a two-week paid job placement with a long-term care provider. According to Fullerton, that program will include targeted training for individuals in sanitation and housekeeping, infection prevention and control, laundry, food safety and COVID-19 procedures for long term care homes in Ontario.
“The training uses a person-centred approach and prepares graduates for entry level positions in Ontario’s long-term care homes,” said Fullerton. “It’s a great step toward a career in long term care; as a PSW, a dietary aid, a recreational therapist or an infection prevention and control specialist.”
Fullerton added that the announcement comes as good news not just for those looking for a career, but for “all of Ontario”, as she said the long term care sector has been struggling with staffing issues due to “decades of under funding” – a problem further spotlighted by the pandemic. Delivered as part of the provinces multi-billion-dollar investment in long term care, Fullerton said the latest investment will “help address this problem”, making long term care a better place to work – in addition to millions in investments to train additional personal support workers through private career colleges as well as Ontario’s publicly assisted colleges.
Also offering their perspective during the virtual conference was the President of Conestoga College John Tibbits, who said the micro-credit program will address the urgent need for trained staff in LTC across Ontario, providing opportunities for those seeking employment to gain skills necessary to return to the workforce and “make positive contributions to the health and well being of their community”.
The training initiative comes following a pilot program hosted out of Conestoga College in Fall of 2020, which saw 180 applicants for 30 available positions.
“To everyone who may be considering this program – I strongly encourage you to apply,” said Fullerton. “Being a long-term care worker is meaningful, and it is rewarding.”
This program will provide targeted training in infection, prevention and control, sanitation, and other procedures related to #LTC homes. The program starts June 2021 for 500 participants over two years and adds to our governments commitment to address staffing in #LTC.— Merrilee Fullerton, MPP (@DrFullertonMPP) May 3, 2021