New Brunswick

Province clarifies 10-week personal support worker program

The Department of Post Secondary Education Training and Labour promoted a personal support worker program, raising some concern among workers already in the field.

Free basic training program does not offer certification

Some personal support workers say a new 10-week training program offered by the government isn't enough time to learn proper safety standards. (Shutterstock)

The province is clarifying what exactly it is offering in a free 10-week personal support worker program.

A flyer for an information session about the program describes the course as offering technical training along with training for essential skills for the workplace.

It is being offered by the Department of Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour. The notice promotes the potential for work placement following the course. 

But the offering has raised concern among some certified personal support workers in the province. 

"I was immediately very upset because I'm a PSW and spent thousands of dollars, and to see that the government was going to offer it for free really boiled my blood," said Hampton's Elaine Scott.

Scott spent eight months at Eastern College, followed by an eight-week job placement. She had to complete an exam before receiving certification.

She spent $11,000 to pay for her training and is qualified to work in nursing homes, special care homes and hospitals.

"It's a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort."

What actually is on offer

The province admits its message may have been confusing.

"This 10-week program offers basic training that would focus on the area of personal care services, and include items such as companionship, light housekeeping, and meal preparation," Jennifer Lockhart wrote in a statement on behalf of the department. 

The statement also said the training shouldn't be confused with certification. 

"We recognize the confusion in the various occupational titles and will adjust our messaging in the future."

The Department of Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour said it will change it's messaging in the future. (Submitted)

Even so, Scott said that's still not enough time to be trained to care for people properly. She isn't alone in her concern.  

Cara Scott, another personal support worker who is not related to Elaine Scott, said even though the training is for a home support worker and not a personal support worker, it still doesn't seem like enough. 

Cara Scott is a personal support worker who says the 10-week training program that is set to be offered by the Department of Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour is not enough for the industry. (Cara Scott/Facebook)

"I just can't see how they can learn everything in 10 weeks," she said. "What happens if someone does fall?"

She said anything can happen, even in home care, and that requires much more training.

The department said it will hold an information session about the program on Feb. 25 in Sackville. The course is full.