February 22, 2021, Premier Doug Ford, Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones, and Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, Jill Dunlop, announced the introduction of the Combatting Human Trafficking Act. If passed, the new legislation will strengthen the ability of children’s aid societies and law enforcement to protect exploited children, support survivors in obtaining restraining orders, and provide law enforcement with more tools to locate victims and charge traffickers.
Following the announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Jones responded to questions from media regarding Ontario’s response to COVID-19.
Earlier today, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, and Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, announced a $4.1 million investment to train 373 new personal support workers.
Questions from Media
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Minister Jones was asked why the province was relying on its 34 public health units (PHUs) to plan for regional rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, rather than implementing a consistent provincial approach. In response, Minister Jones explained that the government believes PHUs are best-positioned to make decisions regarding the fastest and most equitable method of rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, based on their understanding of the needs of their local communities. The Minister added that vaccines will be allocated to PHUs based on population, in order to ensure an equitable distribution across Ontario.
Regional Public Health Units
In response to further questions about Ontario’s reliance on PHUs for the vaccine rollout, Premier Ford signalled that looking beyond COVID-19, he remains in favour of a standardized and consistent approach to health system delivery, as opposed to Ontario’s current regional division.
Investment in PSW Training
Earlier today, Minister McNaughton and Dr. Fullerton announced an investment of $4.1 million to train 373 new Personal Support Workers (PSWs). Today’s investment is intended to ensure a high standard of care for seniors and long-term care residents, and is a step towards addressing the province’s PSW shortage.
Funding announced today will support eight projects:
- $1,991,120 for Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre (Ottawa) for the Earn As You Learn PSW Certification project, which will train up to 120 participants to address the Ottawa area PSW shortage.
- $941,000 for the Canadian Career Academy of Business & Technology (Lanark and Renfrew) for the Pathway2PSW project, which will provide free PSW training to 60 participants.
- $295,500 for Canadore College (North Bay) to connect 20 unemployed job seekers from the local Ontario Works caseload with PSW training.
- $265,810 for Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology (Hamilton) to provide employers with up to 20 skilled workers and to provide participants with health care sector employment and training services.
- $171,417 for the Victorian Order for Nurses for Canada – Ontario Branch (GTA), for a partnership with Trios College and the National Association of Career Colleges, which will train 33 PSWs.
- $128,405 for ParaMed (Kitchener) to support an accelerated delivery program that will prepare 60 students to become PSWs in the home and community care sector.
- $64,196 for ParaMed (London) to enable 30 individuals to take the PSW Fast Track program at Conestoga College.
- $64,196 for ParaMed (Burlington/Hamilton) to enable 30 individuals to take the PSW Fast Track program at Conestoga College.
Today’s investment will also be used to develop educational resources to minimize PSWs’ exposure to infections.