The Ontario government has announced a plan that would address some of the gaps in the healthcare system that were brought into focus during the pandemic. Calling it A Plan to Stay Open, the changes include recruitment of more doctors, nurses and personal support workers, further expand domestic production of critical supplies like masks and vaccines and building more hospital beds..
To add more healthcare workers the province proposes to:
- Invest $142 million to launch the new “Learn and Stay” grant. The program will start with $81 million over the next two years to expand the Community Commitment Program for Nurses for up to 1,500 nurse graduates each year to receive full tuition reimbursement in exchange for committing to practice for two years in an underserved community.
- Make it easier and quicker for foreign-credentialled health workers to begin practicing in Ontario by reducing barriers to registering with and being recognized by health regulatory colleges. The legislation would prohibit regulatory colleges from requiring Canadian work experience as a qualification for registration, subject to any exemptions provided for in accompanying regulation.
- Make the temporary wage enhancement for personal support (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs) permanent.
- Train more doctors through the largest expansion of medical school education in over 10 years. Ontario is adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years, including at the Ryerson School of Medicine in Brampton.
- Support the clinical education component in Ontario’s nursing education programs. This investment will enable publicly assisted colleges and universities to expand laboratory capacity supports and hands-on learning for students, providing opportunities for learners to demonstrate their knowledge of theories and principles in actual practical settings.
- Implement a capital plan expansion with more than 50 major projects that would add 3,000 new beds over 10 years and invest to support the continuation of over 3,100 acute and post-acute beds in hospitals and alternate health care facilities, and hundreds of new adult, paediatric and neonatal critical care beds.
- Through the enhanced Community Commitment Program for Nurses, up to 1,500 nurses will be placed with employers in 2022-23 and up to an additional 1,500 next year (2023-24). A total of 1,500 nurses, (up to 750 a year), will be dedicated to services in a rural or northern community.