Students throughout British Columbia have more opportunities to train for careers as health-care professionals, thanks to focused investments in post-secondary education and training.
“For years, British Columbians have been calling for more trained health professionals in their communities,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We heard that call to action and we’re investing in valuable, in-demand training in every corner of the province so that students preparing for careers in health care, or health professionals upgrading their skills, are able to provide quality health care when and where it is needed. It is because of the work of these unsung heroes in health care that we are at a place to safely build back the best B.C.”
This week, government announced more than $4.4 million for health profession-related education and training at B.C. post-secondary institutions. This funding is in addition to annual funding of more than $125 million for health education programs around B.C.
Programs include training for health-care assistants, anesthesia assistants, mental health and community support workers and programs for nurses.
These one-time investments allow government to respond to local and emerging needs and are in addition to ongoing support of health-care education programs at post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.
The funding also creates opportunities for existing health professionals to further enhance their skills. Registered nurses and other health professionals can access short, targeted training modules through the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and respiratory therapists can access one-on-one clinical refreshers.
“We are committed to training, recruiting and hiring a new generation of health-care professionals at all levels, including respiratory therapists and critical care nurses, who are vital members of the health-care team,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Respiratory therapists and nurses working with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic have a high-risk role because of their hands-on work treating patients with breathing difficulties and I thank them for all they do.”
During a physically distanced visit to Vancouver Community College (VCC), Mark announced funding for two Lower Mainland post-secondary institutions.
VCC received $750,000 to expand its bridging program aimed at licensed practical nurses who choose to continue their education by completing a bachelor of science in nursing degree. In addition, BCIT received funding of $227,000 to enable registered nurses working in critical care settings to train in advanced skills.
Other B.C. post-secondary institutions that received additional funding to support health-related programs include:
- Camosun College
- Coast Mountain College
- College of New Caledonia
- North Island College
- Nicola Valley Institute of Technology
- Okanagan College
- Thompson Rivers University
These latest investments bring the total new funding for health education to approximately $46 million since 2017. The investments will result in thousands of new health-care professionals and workers throughout the province. They include funding for:
- a new sonography program at College of New Caledonia;
- nurse practitioner program expansions at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria and the University of Northern British Columbia;
- additional specialty nursing seats at the British Columbia Institute of Technology;
- 100 additional health-care assistant seats throughout B.C.;
- startup and program launch funding for the northeast nursing program in Fort St. John, and a new sonography program at Camosun College;
- startup funding for physiotherapy program expansion and distribution to Prince George.
The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training works with the Ministry of Health to support areas of highest need for the health-sector workforce. The Ministry of Health helps to fund some health-education seats through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training (e.g., specialty nursing and some one-time health-care assistant funding).
Promoting and protecting the public health-care system is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Two backgrounders follow.