The government is funding 2,000 new spots in college and university nursing programs, saying the profession needs a boost given ongoing and future health-care needs.
The province will spend $35 million on the additional enrolment, which will start as early as this fall, and will in total add 1,130 practical nursing spots and 870 registered nursing ones.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the gap between the current supply of nurses compared to Ontario’s current and future needs across the health care system,” the province said in a written release. “(This) is a significant step towards keeping pace with the rising demand for front-line health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, especially in sectors where health care workers care for Ontario’s most vulnerable patients such as long-term care, home and community care and acute care.”
The announcement, which came Friday at the end of Nursing Week, was welcomed by colleges and universities, though critics said it does not come close to filling the need, given Ontario needs about 20,000 nurses.
Queen’s University says it will add 24 additional nursing spots for this fall, for a total of 124.
The University of Toronto said it had no “further information about this yet.”
“Once we have heard directly from the ministry, we plan to add seats in our ‘compressed time frame nursing program’ for September 2021, and our plan is for further expansion of nursing spaces in 2022,” said Victoria Smye, director of Western University’s Arthur Labatt Family Nursing School, referring to its 19-month program for students who already have some university credits.
Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, said its 24 member schools “are very pleased with the continued support for the excellent nursing programs at our colleges. This new funding builds on the announcement last year that colleges now have the option to offer independent nursing degree programs.”