Ontario wants to entice 2,500 health care workers a year to practise in communities hit with the greatest staffing challenges by covering their tuition at select postsecondary schools.
Premier Doug Ford, in London on Friday, revealed details of the province’s $142-million “learn and stay grant” that will cover tuition, books and other direct educational costs for students in return for a commitment to work in the region where they studied for up to two years.
Initially intended for only nursing students, Mr. Ford said the grant will also apply to medical laboratory technologist and paramedic programs in regions of the province facing a staffing crunch in these sectors.
“We’re bolstering our work force, building a pipeline of health care talent for growing and underserved communities,” Mr. Ford said. “This is a real win-win. We’re providing students with opportunity for great education and a rewarding career and we’re increasing the number of health care workers in underserved communities so that Ontarians in every corner of the province get the quality of care they need closer to home.”
The grant, with applications opening in the spring, is geared toward students enrolled in undergraduate or diploma nursing programs in northern, eastern or southwestern Ontario, laboratory sciences studies in the northern and southwestern regions and paramedicine in the north.
Paramedics have been in demand in Northern Ontario, where last fall, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) called for better staffing with 911 call volumes on the rise. In the northwestern community of Kenora alone, demand for paramedicine services increased by almost 17 per cent in 2021.
A list of eligible postsecondary institutions across more than a dozen communities has been posted on the province’s