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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario adding 2,000 nurses to the health care system

May 14, 2021

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $35 million to increase enrollment in nursing education programs in publicly-assisted colleges and universities across the province. The new spaces will be available for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 cohorts and will introduce approximately 1,130 new practical nurses and 870 registered nurses into the health care system. COVID-19 has exacerbated the gap between the current supply of nurses compared to Ontario’s current and future needs across the health care system. Today’s announcement is a significant step towards keeping pace with the rising demand for frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, especially in sectors where health care workers care for Ontario’s most vulnerable patients such as long-term care, home and community care and acute care. “Our Government committed to ensuring residents in long-term care receive, on average, four hours of direct care per day. To make this a reality, tens of thousands of new staff need to be hired to provide this care — including registered nurses and practical nurses.” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Today’s investment supports our plan to shore up staffing in long-term care and address the need for nurses across the health care system.” In addition to expanding enrollment to support the increase in nursing supply for all sectors of our health system, including home and community care and acute care, this investment will also support the expansion of clinical education placements for nursing students and personal support worker students in the long-term care sector. Clinical education placements will be supported in the following ways:

  • Increasing training for clinical experts who oversee students in long-term care placements; and

  • Providing additional funding to ensure dedicated supervision time from clinical experts to support student learning in long-term care.

“Ontarians rely on the exceptional quality of care that health care professionals provide in hospitals and long-term care homes,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Colleges and universities are crucial partners in our goal to provide high-quality care for long-term care residents and all Ontarians. Today’s announcement is progress to ensuring that Ontario’s healthcare system has the highly-qualified staff needed to provide world-class care for Ontarians and our loved ones.” This investment will help long-term care homes ensure quality clinical placements in long-term care at a time when homes are facing severe staffing challenges. It will also provide registered nurses already in the long-term-care sector an opportunity to grow their careers by working as clinical experts and supervising new students. “Nurses are a cornerstone of our health care system and are integral to Ontario’s fight against COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This investment will support and strengthen our nursing workforce and ensure patients can continue to receive high-quality care across our health system, including long-term care, home and community care and acute care.” This investment also supports the government's Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, which was launched last year and sets out actions that will educate, train and help recruit tens of thousands of new health care staff through partnerships with labour partners, long-term care homes, and education and training providers, so that homes can provide an average of four hours of direct care per day to residents. Quick Facts

  • The Province launched A Better Place to Live, A Better Place to Work: Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, in December of last year. At the centre of this plan, the hours of direct care for residents will be increasing to an average of four hours per day over four years. To implement this initiative, the government will be making overall investments of $1.9 billion annually by 2024-2025.

  • The long-term care staffing plan responds to recommendations from Justice Gillese’s Public Inquiry Report on the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System, the Long-Term Care Staffing Study released this past July, interim recommendations from the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, and submissions and reports from long-term care organizations and other partners.

  • Through the 2021 Ontario Budget, the government is investing an additional $650 million in long‑term care in 2021–22, including more than $121 million to accelerate the training of nearly 9,000 personal support workers.

  • The province has also been working closely with the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence at Ontario Health and a number of hospitals to develop specific mental health support services for frontline health care workers, which they can access in their day-to-day lives. Frontline health care workers can access self-referral and intake services, as well as weekly online peer discussion groups, and access to confidential support from a clinician, including iCBT supports targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD.

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