In recent months, the Government of Ontario has taken drastic, financial measures to stabilize the healthcare workforce.
Many free programs and incentives have been rolled out to meet the ever-increasing demand for more Personal Support Workers.
It can be confusing to decide which program or benefit is best for you.
For your convenience, we have gathered information about all the educational and supportive programs for Personal Support Workers.
We have compiled everything that the Government has rolled out.
While we think we have done comprehensive research, we may have missed something.
You can let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section at the end.
The Demand for PSWs
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for near-future surges of infection rates, the Government acknowledges the dangers of having a weakened healthcare system due to inefficient staffing and medical support.
Before the pandemic, medical facilities across Canada have been experiencing a steady decline in available support workers.
This year, measures have been taken to provide the long-overdue recognition and support that frontline healthcare workers desperately require.
As of September 2020, the Government has invested roughly $50 million in order to support, recruit, and retain frontline healthcare workers specifically for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes.
This includes nurses, personal support workers, and other relevant workers who care for seniors and long-term care residents.
The Government has also committed to investing millions upon millions more as part of the COVID-19 preparedness plan.
For this post, we are focusing on the ever-growing need for more personal support workers (PSWs) and the latest Government initiatives being used to build the healthcare workforce.
If you have been thinking of working in Canadian healthcare and becoming a personal support worker, the time could not be better.
Why the Government Intervention?
Over the past several years, there has been a lot of hue and cry for the need to revamp the Personal Support Worker industry.
There was a need for Government intervention to support the PSW profession and recognize PSWs as essential members of the Canadian healthcare system, especially in the long-term care sector.
It finally happened with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government at various levels have realized how important a role PSWs play in delivering essential services to those in need.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a massive staffing void in Canadian healthcare, largely contributed by budget constraints.
As the pandemic hit, the situation became dire with facilities scrambling to hire more healthcare workers.
The Government finally realized that personal support workers are the backbone of Canadian healthcare and for the delivery of services that matter the most.
Filling the Void
Over the past few months, Governments at various levels have launched programs to educate, hire and retain PSWs.
Federal and Provincial Funding
PSW programs are being funded both at the federal and provincial levels.
There is a program funded by the Government of Canada and then there is a much larger program funded by the Government of Ontario.
Registration for the Government of Ontario-funded accelerated PSW program is now open.
It is important for you to realize the differences between various programs.
All the available programs, benefits, and incentives are listed here.
List of Ontario Government Funded PSW Programs
|Train & Recruit||Free Education|
|Train & Recruit||Free Education|
|Return of Service|
|$5000||PSW Jobs via HFO|
|Resident Support Aide||Free Training|
|PSW Work for Life||Opportunities|
|All current &
Funded Programs and You
Here you will find descriptions of all the programs mentioned in the list above with links to more in-depth resources.
Train and Recruit 8200 PSWs
This is a new fully funded, accelerated program that allows you to become a Personal Support Worker in 6 months.
The program is offered through publically funded community colleges.
There is an initial, non-refundable application fee of $95 but beyond that, there is no other cost.
There may be some other costs to obtain your vulnerable screening.
Textbooks are covered under the program.
The program is split into two parts, theory, and field placement.
The theory component may be in-class or online.
The paid field placement is for 3 months.
Across Ontario, 6000 students will be accepted into this program.
Registration for this program is now open.
Train and Recruit 373 PSWs
Before the above program was launched, the Ontario Government had rolled out a much smaller program to train and recruit 373 PSWs.
This was clearly not enough!
Moreover, the program was offered through private partnerships with very few spots across Ontario.
As a result, many people were unable to get into the program.
$2000 Incentive for Existing Students
The Government of Ontario is offering a $2000 incentive to students who are currently enrolled in PSW programs.
You must be enrolled at a publically-funded community college.
There are qualification criteria for this incentive depending upon when you started the program.
It is best that you check with your College to see if you are eligible to receive this $2000 incentive.
Students taking PSW program at private career colleges, unfortunately, do not qualify for this incentive.
$5000 Return of Service Incentive
The Personal Support Worker Return of Service (PSW ROS) Initiative provides new PSW graduates with a $5,000 incentive in exchange for a six-month commitment in eligible long-term care or with a home and community care employer.
The bonus is provided in two installments, the first $2,000 given after two months and the last $3,000 after completion of the six-month contract period.
Employers have to submit a PSW ROS application along with their PSW job posting in order to seek qualification for this bonus initiative.
Ontario Health reviews and approves the application, and both the employer and newly recruited PSWs must sign contractual agreements.
New graduates can search for job opportunities for the approved bonus with Health Force Ontario.
Do note that, not all new PSW jobs qualify for the incentive.
The job you have applied to must be associated with the incentive and posted through HFO.
Resident Support Aide Program
Due to the increasing shortage of staff in medical facilities designed to support elderly patients, the Government of Ontario is looking to remedy the current situation by recruiting residential support aides (RSAs) through the “Ontario Workforce Reserve for Senior Support”.
This is an initiative to help recruit individuals to provide support in long-term care homes.
Anyone who is unemployed or temporarily displaced from a healthcare position during the pandemic can apply to become a Resident Support Aide.
Recruitment is currently focused on regions that have been most affected by the pandemic but will be expanded to other areas of the province.
This is also a free program and requires you to complete a short online educational component.
You will be paid for the online training.
Once you have completed the training, you become eligible to work in long-term care homes as a Resident Support Aide.
It is important for you to understand that the Resident Support Aide program, is a Resident Support Aide program!
It will not qualify you to become a Personal Support Worker.
If you’re considering this role, you can set up a profile through the Ontario Matching Portal to receive training and to be placed in facilities where help is most needed.
Interested individuals must qualify to work in Canada and do not necessarily have to have a background in healthcare to apply.
Keep in mind that the Resident Support Aide is not equivalent to a Personal Support Worker.
The PSW Work for Life Initiative
The “Work for Life” campaign, started by Home Care Ontario and the Ontario Community Support Association (OSCA), provides awareness about Personal Support Workers.
The website information is offered in multiple languages and contact information is readily available.
This includes everything from the application process to certification programs to effectively searching for newly posted job opportunities.
This campaign is being used to inform individuals about the benefits of working as a PSW in order to combat both the decreased staff support and the rapidly growing, aging population nationwide.
The Federal Government Funded PSW Program
The Federal Government is investing approximately $23 million to fund an accelerated PSW program facilitated through the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CiCan).
The program is free to new students and is comprised of a six-week online training and a 4-month paid work placement in-home health or long-term care.
The goal is to infuse the workforce with 4,000 new PSWs to support elderly patients during and after the demands of COVID-19.
Prospective students will be able to apply starting in the spring of 2021.
Since the initial announcement, there have been no further updates on this program.
We will send out an update as soon as the program becomes available for registration.
If you’re not already subscribed to PSWHQ, you can do so by filling out the form below.
We will send you the important updates.
The Government recognizes the vital roles that PSWs and supportive nursing staff play in caring for elderly patients across Canada.
All of the aforementioned initiatives, campaigns, and programs are being introduced because the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed several weaknesses in the healthcare system.
Vulnerable populations do not have enough staff support, and staff who are currently working lack the assistance to handle the novel pandemic stresses combined with everyday work-related tasks.
Although millions of dollars in funding are going towards these new programs in hopes to brace for the pandemic impact, the Government is also looking towards future healthcare support after the dust settles.
The end goal is to optimize Canada’s healthcare system for both frontline healthcare workers and patients and to prepare the country for whatever may happen in the future.
We will continue to update this page as and when more information on the programs listed here or new programs are announced.
Subscribe to PSWHQ by filling out the form below to stay informed of all the developments.
Currently, the Personal Support Worker Association continues to assess the quality of the accelerated program to ensure that students are just as efficiently trained as those attending traditional programs.