Conestoga College gets $4.85M from Ontario to train long-term care assistants

Ontario long-term care minister says what happened during COVID-19 was 'decades in the making'

The Ontario government says it is giving Conestoga College $4.85 million to train a plethora of new long-term care home assistants.

It says the money will be used to provide free training for 500 people including 475 jobseekers.

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“Our government is committed to modernizing long-term care and this includes having the staff we need to support our most vulnerable,” Long-Term Care Minister Dr. Merrilee Fullerton stated.

“This is in addition to the training programs we’re investing in through Ontario’s public colleges, private career colleges and school boards will graduate up to 16,500 new PSWs in the next year.”

Those who enroll in the project will get seven weeks of training, which will include a two-week paid placement at a long-term care provider.

“The Long-Term Care Home Assistant program will address the urgent need for trained staff in LTC homes across Ontario while providing opportunities for laid-off workers to gain skills that will allow them to return to the workforce and make positive contributions to the health and well-being of their community,” Conestoga president John Tibbits said.

A total of 3,760 long-term care residents and 11 staff have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit.

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Fullerton said the deaths of residents and staff in long-term care homes must not be in vain at a press conference on Monday.

The Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission called for an overhaul of the sector in its final report, delivered to the government Friday night.

The 322-page report said the long-term care sector was not properly prepared for a pandemic, which was then made worse by the Ontario government’s “slow response” when COVID-19 first hit the province.

“Many of the challenges that had festered in the long-term care sector for decades — chronic underfunding, severe staffing shortages, outdated infrastructure and poor oversight — contributed to deadly consequences for Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens during the pandemic,” the commissioners wrote.

-With files from Canadian Press and Global News’ Jess Patton

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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