Government of Canada announces funding to train 4,000 personal support worker interns, support sector

News release

December 4, 2020              Ottawa, Ontario              Employment and Social Development Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the critical role that personal support workers play in our healthcare system.  The shortage of personal support workers has been growing in recent years and has significantly increased with the current pandemic.

That is why today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced $23.2 million in funding for Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to develop and implement an accelerated online program to train approximately 4,000 new personal support worker interns. The program includes six weeks of online training followed by a four-month paid work-integrated learning placement with an employer in long-term care or home care. This new training program will be offered at no cost to the trainees. These new personal support worker interns will provide much needed support to long-term care staff, as they receive training on the job.

As part of this project, CICan will work in collaboration with provinces, territories, employers, workers’ organizations, unions and training providers to begin a national dialogue on training standards for the supportive care sector.

This is one part of the government’s comprehensive plan to support workers and the sector. As highlighted in the Fall Economic Statement, the government is committed to working with partners to seek solutions to improve retention, recruitment and retirement savings options for low- and modest-income workers, particularly those without existing workplace pension coverage, including PSWs. The government is also committed to working with provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care. Additionally, as announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the government proposed to establish a new $1-billion Safe Long-term Care Fund, to better support both those living in long-term care homes and those who work in them. 

Helping this sector address the current labour shortage builds on the Government’s commitment to make the largest training investment in Canadian history. The focus is on offering opportunities for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to get new skills and start a new career in a growing sector. The new program announced today can serve as a model for accessing skills training for other in-demand jobs in the future, which is vital to Canada’s economic recovery.


“The Government recognizes the incredible work of our personal support workers across the country. They are taking care of our loved ones in a time of great uncertainty. This project offers a way to get more workers trained quickly in order to meet Canada’s increasing long-term care and home-care needs. As we look to make historic investments in training, we need to be innovative in our approach and provide training opportunities that offer clear career paths.” 
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the critical role that personal care providers play on the front lines of our health care system. Unfortunately, it has also revealed some gaps and critical labour shortages, showing an urgent need for accelerated and flexible training options. With the support of Employment and Social Development Canada, colleges and institutes across Canada are joining forces to design and offer a rapid-response training program and subsidized work placement that will address the short-term labour shortage and provide students with clear pathways to full certification in their provinces and territories. This collaborative response to the crisis underscores the commitment of the college and institute system to meeting the training needs of learners and communities.” 
– Denise Amyot, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colleges and Institutes Canada

Quick facts

  • Upon completion of their placements, successful trainees will receive a micro-certificate that will recognize the skills and experience gained, making it easier and faster to pursue full personal support worker certification through a regular educational program.

  • The accelerated online training program will open for registration in spring 2021, allowing for work placements to begin in the summer.

  • All individuals legally entitled to work in Canada can participate in this training program.

Associated links


For media enquiries, please contact:
Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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Julien Abord-Babin
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
613-746-2222 ext. 3131

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