Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says Ontario’s plan to invest millions for PSW training at Ontario colleges is a good first step in tackling the crisis in Long-Term Care and rebuilding a long-neglected public sector.
The union says the $115 million earmarked for Ontario’s publicly funded colleges will support training for up to 8200 new Personal Support Workers (PSWs) who will have fully paid tuition and paid supervised placements as part of a six-month program starting in April.
“We need to build capacity now,” said Thomas. “Getting more PSWs properly trained and into the workforce is a top priority and we’re thankful to the Ford government for listening to OPSEU’s calls. Lives depended on it.”
With so much uncertainty and job insecurity, the union says this investment will help revitalize Ontario’s economy. OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida called the benefits two-fold.
“This training will help Ontario build a workforce that supports our most vulnerable at a time of growing need,” said Almeida. “It also means jobs, income and stability for thousands of workers who support their families and keep our economy running by shopping at local businesses. The benefits are exponential.”
The union – which represents thousands of college employees – is pleased the government is investing in Ontario’s public colleges, saying they are best-suited for such an important job.
“Public is best, hands down,” said Thomas. “Our community colleges are known for the high-quality education they provide, thanks largely to the professional and skilled instructors and support staff who put their heart and soul into education.”
Laura Bulmer, an OPSEU/SEFPO member who is a Registered Nurse, subject matter expert and Professor at George Brown College, welcomes the news and said college professors are eager to get to work on putting this in motion.
“It will be challenging given the time constraints, but Ontario PSW educators are a dedicated group, and I am confident they will step up to the plate,” said Bulmer, who is also Chairperson of the Canadian Association of Continuing Care Educators. “We look forward to working with our Long-Term Care, Hospital and Community stakeholders to obtain the numerous clinical placements that will be required to support this fast-track approach.”
While today’s announcement is an important first step, the union says it’s time to look at other occupations in similar situations.
“There are major understaffing issues across the public sector,” said Thomas. “After years of neglect, it’s time to build back our services and invest in the training and staffing we need across the board; in health care, in education and in the social service sectors that support our province’s most vulnerable people.
“This is a good first step,” said Thomas. “But we’ve got a long road to get to where we should be. Our public colleges and the professionals who work there can help lead Ontario back to economic, emotional and physical health.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931