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Province to add 2,000 nurses to health care system, more spaces for nursing students

Sault College welcomes news for nursing program
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The provincial government announced Friday it is adding 2,000 nurses to the health care system.

The news comes during Nursing Week (May 10 to 16).

New funding in the amount of $35 million will increase enrolment in nursing education programs in publicly-funded colleges and universities across Ontario.

The new spaces for more nursing students will be available for both Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 cohorts, bringing approximately 1,130 new practical nurses and 870 registered nurses into the provincial health care system.

The news was greeted enthusiastically by Sault College, home to one of Ontario’s nursing programs.

“Sault College welcomes today’s announcement regarding an increase in enrolment in nursing education programs. This investment showcases the government’s commitment to healthcare in Ontario and will help to ensure there will be more graduates to fill the critical demand for nurses throughout the province,” the college stated in an email.

“Sault College is committed to increasing enrolment in our Practical Nursing (PN) and Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) programs.”

Currently, the college’s PN program has 109 students and the BScN has 226 students. 

“We will work with our partner – Laurentian University – regarding enrollment in our BScN program. The college will also work in collaboration with our healthcare partners for further placement opportunities for our students in these program areas. We are excited for the opportunities this announcement will create and the positive impact it will have on Sault College’s nursing education programs,” the college stated.

“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,” said Sault MPP Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, in a release.

The province said COVID-19 has widened the gap between the current supply of nurses and Ontario’s current and future needs across the health care system.  

The government says it also intends to expand clinical education placements for nursing students and personal support worker students in the long-term care sector.

“Today’s announcement is a significant step toward 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,” the government release states.

“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.

Clinical education placements will be supported through increased training for clinical experts who oversee students in long-term care placements, and by providing additional money to ensure students learning in long-term care receive dedicated supervision time, the government said.

The province says the new funding will provide clinical placements at a time when long-term care homes are experiencing staffing challenges, and will give registered nurses already working in the long-term care sector a chance to grow in their careers by working as clinical experts and supervising new students.

To make sure long-term care homes provide an average of four hours of direct care for residents per day, the government says it intends to spend $1.9 billion annually by 2024-2025.

The Ontario government’s 2021 budget puts an extra $650 million into long-term care in 2021-2022, including $121 million to speed up the training of almost 9,000 personal support workers.