Training Personal Support Workers to Cost $38.5 Million Over 2 Years: PBO

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 9, 2021

OTTAWA—As the government moves to train 4,000 new personal support workers across the country, Parliament’s budget watchdog estimates it will cost $38.5 million over two years.

A costing note from the parliamentary budget office Tuesday says the federal government proposes to fund a six-week accelerated online program and four-month internship.

Parts of the country have faced dire staffing shortages in long-term care homes, where COVID-19 outbreaks have strained resources and caused thousands of deaths.

Measures prohibiting care workers from working at multiple homes in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have worsened the staffing crunch.

In recent weeks, outbreaks at dozens of homes have raised alarms after the first wave saw more than 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths occur in long-term care facilities.

The Canadian Red Cross sent workers to five care homes in British Columbia last week, following similar efforts in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, and the military’s deployment to nursing homes in Quebec and Ontario last spring.

The budget office’s $38.5-million cost estimate is two-thirds higher than the amount announced in December by Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, who pledged $23.2 million for Colleges and Institutes Canada to develop and implement the new training regime.

This program’s major expenses stem from tuition, intern wages and administration.

The budget office’s price tag was based partly on internship wage rates and administration costs provided by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Projected tuition expenses for the six-week virtual program were estimated using a representative sample of support-worker programs in Canada that will be offered this year, the office said.