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'Dire need’ for nurses prompts funding boost for Lambton College

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A six-figure funding injection from the province will help Lambton College train more nurses to help address a growing nursing shortage in Ontario’s health-care system exacerbated by the pandemic.

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Officials announced on July 21 that the Sarnia-based school will be offered nearly $600,000 to train up to 60 additional registered practical nurses and five more registered nurses in the upcoming school year.

Jill Dunlop, the recently appointed minister of Ontario’s colleges and universities, said there’s a gap between the number of trained nurses and the current and future needs of the system, especially in long-term care and community homes.

“There’s a dire need for more registered nurses and registered practical nurses in Ontario,” she said during a visit to the London Road school. “Our post-secondary sector is critical in these efforts.”

To help address this need, the province is giving the college up to $591,942 to increase enrolment in nursing education and programs, Dunlop said. The money will also be used to increase learning supports for clinical placements of nursing and personal-support worker students.

“So students working in long-term care settings have access to the hands-on training they need to succeed,” Dunlop said.

The funding is part of a $35-million injection to help increase enrolment in nursing education programs at colleges and universities across the province. The new spaces will be available this coming fall and winter semesters, with the goal of adding about 1,131 practical nurses and 873 registered nurses to the system in the coming years.

Bob Bailey, Sarnia-Lambton’s MPP, said nurses and personal-support workers are the “cornerstone” of the health-care system while also pointing to the “large gap” between the number of trained staff and an expected shortage.

“We need more registered nurses and registered practical nurses in Ontario,” he said.

Rob Kardas, the college’s new president and chief executive, called it a “big win” for the students and the local health-care system.

“After what we have just experienced in smaller communities like ours, this is clearly the solution for the demand for more nurses,” Kardas said. “Ultimately this announcement means there will be more nursing graduates to fill the demand for nurses within our region.”

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