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Ontario announces<br>‘A Plan to Stay Open’

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: The Ontario government is introducing legislation to try to aid the province in keeping the economy open through future health crises.

On Tuesday, March 29th, the government announced they would be introducing ‘A Plan to Stay Open’, legislation. The government explained, this “will expand on policies and measures already in place, to ensure the province is able to stay open by building a stronger, more resilient health care system [which] is better able to respond to a crisis.”

“Looking back, the most important lesson we’ve learned is, we cannot allow ourselves to be unprepared again,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said, at a recent press conference. “We need to build a stronger, more resilient healthcare system Ontarians can rely on, now, as well as into the future.”

The plan includes making the temporary wage increase for PSWs permanent and launching a ‘Learn and Stay’ grant which would allow “up to 1,500 nurse graduates each year to receive full tuition reimbursement, in exchange for committing to practice for two years, in an under-served community,” according to a provincial press release. The program would then be increased in 2023 to 2,500 students and would provide “full, upfront funding for tuition, books and other direct educational costs.”

The plan also calls for an easier path for “foreign-credentialled health workers” to be able to work in the province.

“The legislation would prohibit regulatory colleges from requiring Canadian work experience as a qualification for registration, subject to any exemptions provided for in accompanying regulation,” the press release stated.

The province is also making sure there is a solid supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including leveraging “the province’s extensive manufacturing capability wherever possible, to maintain a healthy stockpile of quality PPE” and prohibiting “the offer to sell or the sale of government-provided PPE” which has “been provided without charge or payment of a fee.”

The plan would require “the development of a provincial emergency management plan [which] is publicly available, [and] reviewed and revised at least every five years.”

“To build a stronger Ontario, we must learn from the past,” Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria said.

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