Portage College Program Receives Support in Rapidly Training 
Long-Term Care Workers

Supportive Care Assistant program provides much-needed bridge into the Health Care system that is much needed in the province.

May 25, 2020 - Portage College’s Supportive Care Assistant program is receiving support from government, partners, and communities in Northern Alberta. The tuition-free 14-week program consists of a series of micro-credentials followed by a two-month paid work placement in a long-term or home care setting. The program has been developed by Portage and several post-secondary institutions in partnership with Colleges & Institutes Canada (CICan), with the goal of rapidly training long-term care workers and providing a bridging program into Health Care Aide, Practical Nurse and other health-related careers. Portage is hoping to graduate 32 Supportive Care Assistants by Spring of 2023.

“New micro-credentials will be key in helping address Alberta’s structural unemployment problem and getting Albertans back to work,” said Demetrios Nicolaides, Advanced Education Minister. “The Supportive Care Assistant Program does just that and aims to tackle labour shortages in the long-term care sector. Portage College has been a leader in providing micro-credentials and I look forward to seeing their continued effort in getting Albertans back to work.”

Several students in the program are now entering the work placement portion of their training and have not had difficulties finding placements, thanks to partners like Optima Living and the St. Paul Abilities Network. “They’ve been excellent partners and have really helped us get this important program up and running in a timely manner,” said Robin Tizzard, Dean of Health, Human Services and Business.

“Optima Living is proud to partner with Portage College to facilitate skills training in the Slave Lake and Lac La Biche communities,” said Karim Kassam, Co-Founder and Principal at Optima Living. “Our commitment to provide long term meaningful employment in northern communities is a cornerstone of our commitment to be engaged employers in the community and contributors to building a healthy job force and economy.”

St. Paul Abilities Network is excited by the opportunity to partner with the Alberta Government and Portage College in creating the opportunities for students to enhance their skills as they move forward in their career aspirations. “This partnership has the opportunity to both positively impact the consumer of service and the student as they move forward with their career,” said Anthony Opden Dries, Executive Director for St. Paul Abilities Network.

Minister of Health Jason Copping is fully supportive of the program and appreciates the possibilities it creates for both students and Albertans. “Long-term and home care staff deliver personalized services to thousands of Albertans every day, and Supportive Care Assistants play an essential role in meeting clients’ needs,” he said. “Thank you to Optima Living and the St. Paul Abilities Network for agreeing to provide the necessary practicum spaces as CICan and Portage College partner together to support training even more staff. I’m looking forward to initiatives like these to support our work to transform continuing care by adding more beds and expanding capacity throughout Alberta.”

Current students also see the value of the program, and are grateful for the support of partners like Optima Living and the St. Paul Abilities Network. “I’m so thankful for the staff and residence at Wild Rose, I’ve been having such a great practicum experience. Which has exceeded my expectations and allowed me to learn and grow personally and professionally,” said Missy Sparklingeyes.

Program Information

Portage College is looking for people of all ages who enjoy working with seniors. Students will receive free tuition and also receive a wage subsidy of $5,000 while at their work placements. Interested students can contact Continuing Education directly at [email protected]  or 1-888-745-0719 for more information and to apply. 

About Optima Living 

For the past 15 years, Optima Living has established a strong reputation as an owner and operator of seniors’ residential communities located in Western Canada. These communities range from Independent to Assisted Living, Long Term Care to Memory Care Living and Residential Mental Health. Optima Living currently operates more than 1,200 beds in 18 communities across Alberta and B.C. Optima Living believes what sets it apart is the unique culture the company works to create in all its seniors’ residential communities, as stated in its North Star – Let us welcome you home. Visit https://www.optimaliving.ca.

Optima Living Media Contact:

Alyssa Barry
Media Relations, Optima Living 
[email protected]

About St. Paul Abilities Network

St. Paul Abilities Network has provided quality supports to Albertans since 1964. St. Paul Abilities Network believes in leading edge training and education for our employees that is relevant and supports our staff in achieving our Mission. Our Mission is to create personalized supports for individuals in our services to reach their goals.  Our Vision is Empowerment…Excellence…Service and People are our Purpose.

About Portage College

Portage College is a public board-governed community College, operating seven strategically located campuses in northeastern Alberta. Collaboration, inclusion, and a commitment to success and accountability are at the core of the College’s values. Portage College has been serving the region for over 50 years and is proud to be the first choice for learners in northeastern Alberta.

Offering more than 30 certificate and diploma programs face to face and online in areas of business, accounting, arts, health care, food sciences and education, as well as apprenticeship trades training, university transfer and academic upgrading, Portage educates thousands of full-time and part-time students every year through their programs and continuing education courses.