These were Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s opening remarks at a COVID-19 briefing on Sept. 28.
Good afternoon. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the spread of COVID-19. Today’s numbers, they’re deeply concerning. And our health officials are telling us that Ontario is now in the second wave of COVID-19. We know that this wave will be more complicated, more complex, it’ll be worse than the first wave we faced earlier this year. And we’ve all played a critical role to play.
Please follow the health guidance. Please download the COVID Alert app. Please get your flu shot this year. It’s absolutely critical. If we can get everyone to take these simple steps, we can tip the scale, we can avoid the worst. Because we know that we’re in the second wave. And we know that it’ll be worse than the first wave. But what we don’t know yet is how bad the second wave will be. The reality is it’s up to each of us. Together, our collective actions will decide if we face a wave or a tsunami.
My friends, this is extremely, extremely serious. Everything is on the table. We’ve already taken countless steps to restrict gatherings, to address the hot spots. We’ve been working around the clock. We’ve been preparing all summer for exactly this situation. And that means strengthening our health-care system. It means adding more resources, adding more testing capacity and, most importantly, adding more boots on the ground.
As we enter the second wave, getting more health-care workers—more nurses, more personal support workers—getting these folks in place will be absolutely critical, because our front-line heroes, they need reinforcements. That’s why today we can share the details of our plan to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more health-care workers and caregivers. We’re getting thousands of health-care workers ready, thousands of health-care workers, nurses, PSWs that we can quickly deploy where they’re needed most.
In total, this plan will mean over $52 million to hire and train thousands of new health-care workers. We’re adding 800 more nurses. We’re adding 600 more acute-care nurses in hospitals and for long-term care homes. Two thousand more personal support workers. And we’re giving recruits a $5,000 incentive to make a six-month commitment to work in long-term care and other settings with urgent needs. And that’s going to be absolutely critical over the coming months. And we’re investing another $14 million in the Personal Support Worker Training Fund to continue training more PSWs for long-term care homes and community care.
I’ll have more to say in the coming days about providing additional support for our great PSWs. But my friends, I’m setting out a call today. We need more health-care professionals. Your province needs you right now. Whether you’re a young person applying to college or university, or someone thinking about their next career, please consider joining the fight. All it takes is a few good men and women to give us the upper hand. And that can make all the difference in the entire world. Thank you, and god bless the people of Ontario.