The Ontario government announced last week that they are increasing the hours of direct care for each long-term care resident to an average of four hours per day, which will be provided by nurses or personal support workers to support individual clinical and personal care needs. Targets have been set in order to reach that target by 2024-25, and, in order to ensure this, regular reports on progress will be expected. Tens of thousands of new personal support workers, registered practical nurses, and registered nurses will be required, and, as part of the province’s COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan, an additional 3,700 frontline workers will be recruited for its health workforce.
The government has pledged to work in collaboration with labour, education, and training providers, as well as sector leaders, in order to achieve the goals they have set. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care, cautioned against unreasonable expectations, however: “Although we will continue to make progress, these changes will not happen overnight, as we have to hire and train a great number of staff and build modern new facilities so our residents get the level of care they deserve.”
The commitment is part of the government’s initiative to build 30,000 new long-term care beds over 10 years. The government is also driving the development of new long-term care homes through the Accelerated Build Pilot Program, adding 1,280 beds by early 2022. Ontario is also providing a temporary wage increase to over 147,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services, including an increase of $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible personal support workers in long-term care.
At the moment, Ontario’s long-term care homes employ over 100,000 staff across the province. The government had already announced $243 million in emergency funding for staffing, supplies, and capacity, and $78.2 million to maintain frontline staff and current levels of service provided for resident care and accommodation.