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Who funded the Supportive Care Assistant Program?

The Supportive Care Assistant Program is part of a national initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses the labour shortages in the long-term care sector. It is funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program and is part of Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) Building Capacity in Long-term Care project.

What is the difference between a supportive care assistant and a personal care provider (PSW, HCA)?

The roles are very different. The supportive care assistant role was developed as part of a work integrated training program. Students will support personal care providers (PSW, HCA) and the health care team. The role is limited to non-clinical activities such as:

  • Assisting with meals
  • Assisting with cleaning and disinfecting
  • Stocking materials required by clients and health care staff
  • Making clients’ beds, cleaning their rooms and other areas
  • Providing companionship, comfort, and support
  • Assisting with and accompanying clients as they move about
  • Participating in activities with clients

Personal care provider programs are much longer and as a result they have more responsibility and carry out more complex tasks, such as taking vital signs.

What does the Supportive Care Assistant Program look like?

The program has been developed as an asynchronous on-line program with a work placement. The program is based on five main competencies that have been developed collaboratively with 14 colleges and institutes from across Canada.

The six-week online portion is composed of five modules that each student works through. Modules include: Professionalism; Client and Family-Centred Assistance; Communication; Supportive Assistance; and Infection Control and Safety. Each module will take approximately 20 hours to complete and can be done at the student’s pace.

A sixth module is focused on the student’s work placement and is worked on concurrently with the first five modules and until completion of the program. The work placement module provides the materials and resources required by the student during their work placement.

After completing the required modules, students will be connected to an employer who will provide between 280 to 560 hours of paid employment during their work placement.

Once they have successfully completed all the requirements, students will be granted a micro-certificate.

What is a micro-certificate?

A micro-certificate is a formal way of recognizing the knowledge and skills that are very specific to the workplace or industry. It is often recognized with a badge: a digital representation of competencies that can be shared with a link to a platform that provides context and verification. The certificate will be awarded by the college or institute delivering the program at the end of the work placement.

Is the Supportive Care Assistant Program available in French?

Yes, all materials and curricula are available in French.

Who has been consulted for the development of the Supportive Care Assistant program?

Initially, CICan staff consulted with a wide number of stakeholders from across Canada. The Government of Canada, in turn, consulted with the provinces and territories. Following that process, 14 college representatives from across Canada formed a working group under the direction on CICan to design the program. Each college was tasked to consult with their provincial stakeholders to collect input during the development of the learning competencies.

Who will cover the workplace insurance for students?

As an employer, your insurance would cover the liability for the student during their work placement.

How much does the student get paid per hour? Do we top them up to a higher wage? What is the regular rate for this role?

Employers are eligible for a wage subsidy of up to $5,000 per student over the work placement. The expectation is that the employer will pay at least minimum wage in their province. Note that you are only reimbursed for the wages actually paid. The expectation is that the employer will top that amount to a least minimum wage in their province and commiserate with the labour market in the area.

Does on-the-job training time count in the working hours?

Yes, the training and on-boarding time is to be included in the working hours

Do students need to be supervised at all times? Can they work independently?

There will be guidelines published in an employer handbook that will recommend the level of supervision required as the student gains experience. Initially, the student would shadow a personal care provider gradually becoming more independent.

Where is the program offered?

Select colleges and institutes are delivering the program across Canada. If you are a national employer or would like more information, please contact us.

How do I register as an employer?

To register, please contact us.

How do I get the wage subsidy?

The subsidy is used to help cover a student’s wage expenses for the work placement, up to a maximum of $5,000 per student. Payments of the subsidy will be released in increments as employers fill certain milestone criteria, such as submitting time sheets, proof of payment of wages, midterm, and final evaluation forms. The final payment will be released after completion of all required tasks. For questions about registering as an employer, please contact or 613-746-7093

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