N.B. government to cover tuition for personal support worker, human services counsellor training
Funding would also cover transportation, child care costs, living expenses
The provincial government says it plans to pay the full tuition costs for people looking to become either a personal support worker or a human services worker.
In a news release issued Friday, the government says it's covering the cost of tuition and other eligible expenses such as transportation, child care, and living allowances as a way to boost the number of people working in adult residential facilities, special care homes and in the homes of those who need their services.
"By making these changes, we are confident more New Brunswickers will be encouraged to choose a career in these occupations, while also addressing one of the province's most critical labour needs," said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder in the release.
Advocates and those working in the industry have sounded alarms about a shortage of personal support workers, as well as the low wages paid in exchange for the physically and emotionally demanding tasks they perform.
In June of 2020, Haley Flaro, executive director of the non-profit group Ability New Brunswick, said the shortage of personal support workers was already "a crisis," and since the pandemic began the problem has only gotten worse.
Friday's release said people interested in the tuition program are advised to contact an employment counsellor at their nearest WorkingNB office. It said applicants will have their tuition covered upon approval of an "employment action plan."
The release says the province previously covered 50 per cent of the cost of tuition for such training, up to a maximum of $4,000.
The change is expected to help fill about 350 seats available for training in the personal support worker sector and about 150 seats available in the human services counsellor sector.
The program will be funded by the federal and provincial governments through the Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Agreements, the release said.
Jan Seely, president of the New Brunswick Special Care Home Association, in the release, said anything that makes it easier for people to receive high-quality personal support worker training is a benefit to residents and the entire sector.
"We have seen, during the pandemic, just how important it is for our staff to have high-quality and consistent training," Seely said.
"PSWs have been the backbone of the senior care system at so many levels. So, this is a great step forward."