Ontario expanding nurse practitioner programs at various universities

Parliament building in Ontario. CREDIT: DIEGOGRANDI
The Ontario government is continuing its efforts to train more nurses.

Western University is among nine Ontario universities that will see 121 additional training positions added to the Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Program this year.

On Nov. 20, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, announced the news at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) at a media conference.

“We are building a health care system that provides Ontarians with the right care in the right place. By connecting patients to more convenient care options closer to home,” Jones said.

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The increase will bring the total number of nurse practitioners’ training sessions to 321 at schools across Ontario. The province said it has an end goal of 350 training sessions.

Since September 2023, additional nurse practitioner positions include up to:

  • 24 new positions at the University of Windsor
  • 20 new positions at the University of Toronto
  • 17 new positions at Toronto Metropolitan University
  • 16 new positions at Western University
  • 15 new positions at Queen’s University
  • 11 new positions at York University
  • eight new positions at McMaster University
  • six new positions at Laurentian University of Sudbury
  • four new positions at Lakehead University
This investment is part of the government’s plan to strengthen the healthcare workforce, fostering a pipeline of talent for the future.

“With this expansion, Ontario has more nurse practitioners’ seats than ever. Ensuring more Ontarians can connect high-quality care when and where they need it,” Jones added. “Ontario is the first in Canada to adopt the nurse practitioner-led clinics models.”

Jones stated that the Ontario government invests over $46 million annually to support 25 nurse practitioner-led clinics. These clinics now provide primary care to 100,000 people who may have faced challenges accessing medical services.

“It’s no secret Ontario’s nurses are some of the finest health care practitioners in the world. And that is a true testament to the nursing programs offered through Ontario's world-class post-secondary institutions,” Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said.

During the press conference, Jones stated that the government registered a record-breaking number of 15,000 new nurses to work in the province last year. According to the College of Nurses Ontario, about 9,000 nurses did not renew their licenses.

There are currently 30,000 nursing students studying at across Ontario’s colleges and universities. The government has hired nearly 100 full-time equivalent nurse practitioners over the past year by implementing the Community Commitment Program for Nurses and the Learn and Stay Grant.

The province’s Community Commitment Program for Nurses provides a $25,000 incentive to nurses who agree to work in areas with the greatest need for two years. Additionally, the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant for the academic year 2023-24 offers complete financial support upfront for tuition, books, and other expenses to first-year post-secondary students who enroll in an eligible nursing, paramedics, or medical laboratory technologists program. In exchange, students must commit to serving in high-needs communities for a specified term after graduation.