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Province provides financial incentives for PSWs, nurses working in retirement homes

PSWs were quitting their jobs citing understaffed workplaces, low pay, stress and burnout during the pandemic

Queen's Park said it will invest more than $2 million over two years to provide financial incentives for new and recently hired personal support workers (PSWs) to keep working in retirement homes. The new cash incentive program was announced Thursday.

The province announced a new Recruitment and Retention Incentive Program will be delivered by the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN), and will help recruit and retain skilled PSWs and nurses while building on Ontario’s plan to modernize the provincial retirement homes sector.

The shortage of qualified staff for retirement homes, as well as long-term care homes, has been a concern since before the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. In many cases, PSWs were quitting their jobs for reasons of understaffed work places, low pay, stress and burnout.

“Ontario has an immediate need for PSWs and nurses to address staffing shortages in retirement homes,” said Raymond Cho, Ontario's Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. 

“Our government’s partnership with WeRPN will ensure eligible retirement home applicants with the highest level of staffing need will be prioritized under the new Recruitment and Retention Incentive Program. Further, WeRPN is well-positioned to raise awareness of the program with current and future PSW and nursing graduates. Attracting and retaining skilled health care professionals will help safeguard the health and well-being of retirement home residents and their families,” said Cho. 

Through the new initiative, PSWs will receive an incentive payment of $5,000 for a six-month commitment and nurses will receive $10,000 for a one-year commitment, to work in a retirement home.

The new plan was welcomed by Dianne Martin, the CEO of the RPN organization.  

“WeRPN is pleased to partner with the government to support the recruitment and retention of PSWs and nurses to Ontario’s retirement homes at a time when they are desperately needed,” said Martin in a news release. 

Retirement homes that are interested in the program are required to apply for the program. The incentives for PSWs and nurses will be paid directly to eligible staff, said the province.  The first call for applications from retirement homes was launched on August 12, 2021 and the deadline for applications is September 17, 2021. A second Call for Applications will launch in December 2021.