New health workforce strategy improves access to health care, puts people first (

Media Contacts

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)


What people are saying about government’s actions

Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training –

“The health workforce is crucial to our well-being, and immediate action is needed to meet the needs of British Columbians today and beyond. Expanding medical school seats is a great win for us, and for students. They have better access to pursue a life-changing and important career to become the health-care heroes that help our families every single day.”

Jamie Wigston, pharmacist and president of the BC Pharmacy Association –

“This is a major step for British Columbians needing better access to their critical medications and community pharmacists are ready to provide much needed additional support to their patients. These decisions will ensure that community pharmacists can fully support their patients by using their expertise and training to increase access that patients urgently need for the medications they are prescribed. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Health and the College of Pharmacists to enable prescribing authority for community pharmacists for minor ailments and contraception by the spring of 2023.”

Dr. Dermot Kelleher, vice-president, health, and dean, faculty of medicine, University of British Columbia (UBC) –

“Together with our academic and health authority partners, along with thousands of outstanding clinical faculty, UBC will graduate more doctors for B.C., benefiting patients and communities around the province. This provincewide expansion of UBC’s medical programs will ensure greater access and opportunities for students and resident doctors to train in the communities where they live, including regional, rural and remote settings.”

More about B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy

The new health human resource strategy includes four areas: retain, redesign, recruit and train. These are detailed below:

  • Retain: Government fosters healthy, safe and inspired workplaces by:
    • Stabilizing and supporting the workforce
    • Supporting the workforce’s health and wellness through:
      • Occupational health and safety resources
      • Violence Prevention Training and Framework Implementation
      • Protection Services Officers
      • Increase Supports for Healthcare Worker Wellness
      • Employee Family Assistance Program
    • Retain staff in high need areas and occupations
      • Targeted Provincial Retention Incentives
      • Health Childcare Strategy and Pilot Expansion
      • Provincial Peer Support and Mentoring Program
      • Wage Levelling in Long-term Care and Assisted Living
    • Embed reconciliation and cultural safety through:
      • Provincial Organizational Standard for Cultural Safety and Humility
      • Indigenous Employee Experience Advisors and Training
    • Advance diversity, equity and inclusion through the provincial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Gender-Based Analysis Plus frameworks
    • Increase clinical leadership capacity to support staff and services
      • Clinical Management Capacity Building
      • Clinical Practice Leader and Clinical Educator Capacity Building
    • Increase workforce engagement through the provincial Health Sector Work Environment Consultation, Survey and Policy
  • Redesign: Government aims to optimize and innovate B.C.’s health system by:
    • Balance workloads and staffing levels to optimize quality of care
      • Workload Standards
      • Specialized Work Design Teams
    • Advance innovation in team-based care
      • Provincial Health Workforce Innovation
      • Team-Based Primary Care Training Program
    • Review scopes of practice and create or optimize key roles
      • Surgical and Anesthesia Nursing Role Development
      • Associate Physician Deployment Expansion
      • Nursing and Allied Health Role Optimization
      • Emergency Medical Assistant Scope of Practice Expansions
      • Optimize Pharmacy Services to Support Primary Care
      • Scope of Practice Policy Review Framework
    • Leverage technology to improve workforce satisfaction and service quality
      • Virtual Care and Telehealth Strategy
  • Provincial Artificial Intelligence and Health Workforce Technology Strategy
  • Human Capital Management System
  • Increase workforce flexibility and responsiveness
    • Primary Care Network Locum Program
    • Privileging Process Review
    • Emergency Health Provider Registry Modernization
    • Provincial Travel Resource Pool
    • Clinical Exercise Physiologist Certification Support Program
  • Recruit: Government’s aim is to attract and onboard new health-care workers by:
    • Remove barriers for internationally educated health-care workers
      • Internationally Educated Allied Health and Nurse Assessment and Nurse Re-Entry Support Programs
      • BC Provincial Nominee Program Expansion
      • Credential Recognition Process Improvement
      • Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program Expansion
      • Practice Ready Assessment Program Expansion
    • Refresh enablers and incentives to attract new health workers
      • Provincial Health Sector Housing Strategy
      • New to Practice Incentive Program
      • Integrated Provincial Recruitment Supports
      • Indigenous Leader Recruitment and Support Initiative
      • Indigenous-Specific Recruitment Strategy
      • Recruitment Incentives
      • Health and Care Careers Promotion Program
    • Improve onboarding and support transitions to practice
      • New Graduate Transition Program
      • Provincial Primary Care Onboarding Toolkit
      • Recruitment, Onboarding and Employment Accessibility Framework
  • Train: Government is focused on creating accessible career pathways by:
    • Strengthen employer supported training models
      • Health Career Access Program
      • New Employer Sponsored ‘Earn and Learn’ Programs
      • Cultural Safety and Humility Training Expansion
      • Health Authority Led Training Framework
      • Professional Development Opportunity Promotion
      • Priority Program Bursaries
      • Employed Student Allied Health and Nurse Program
  • Expand and modernize priority programs
    • Post-Graduate Medical Education Expansion – UBC
    • Second Medical School – SFU
    • Specialty Nursing Learning Pathways
    • Nurse Practitioner Program Expansion
    • Undergraduate Medical Education Expansion – UBC
    • Post Graduate Medical Education and Re-Entry Program Expansion
    • Health Information Science Training Expansion
    • Master of Nursing in Indigenous Health
    • Rehabilitation Assistant Program Expansion
    • Rural Pathways to Health Education Program Expansion
    • Health Education Expansion Implementation
    • Student Practice Education Capacity Building
UBC faculty of medicine seat expansion

The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) faculty of medicine is expanding its medical doctor undergraduate program (MDUP) by 40 seats and postgraduate medical residency training programs (residency) by up to 88 seats, which will be phased in throughout the province beginning in 2023. This will bring the total student intake to 328.

The provincewide expansion, enabled by UBC’s partnerships with universities and all health authorities, will create more opportunities for students and resident doctors to learn, train and stay on to practise in communities around B.C.

The fully expanded 40-seat intake will be distributed as follows:

  • Vancouver-Fraser Medical Program by 16 (from 192 seats to 208);
  • Northern Medical Program by 8 (from 32 seats to 40);
  • Southern Medical Program by 8 (from 32 seats to 40); and
  • Island Medical Program by 8 (from 32 seats to 40).

This optimizes existing capacity in the UBC faculty of medicine.

Becoming a doctor is a multi-year journey. At UBC, learners first complete the four-year MDUP, where they learn the foundations of medicine and patient-centred care while developing their clinical skills through training at hospitals and health clinics in urban, rural and remote settings across British Columbia. Upon successful completion of UBC’s MDUP, graduates earn a doctor of medicine (MD) degree.

Thereafter, they enter a residency program where they receive medical training in a specialized area of medicine. As resident doctors, they provide direct care to patients at clinics and hospitals under the supervision of clinical faculty members until they complete residency training. The length of residency can range from two to seven years depending on the residency program.

Postgraduate medical education seats:

  • To address the critical need for family physicians, additional family medicine residency seats will begin in the 2022-23 fiscal year and will expand the UBC family medicine residency program from 174 to up to 214 by 2024-25.
  • An increase in residency seats, which mirrors the undergraduate medical education program expansion, will add a further 48 postgraduate medical education positions (both family medicine and specialties) by 2028-29. 
Optimizing the scope of pharmacists

Optimizing the scope of pharmacists means pharmacists can safely provide many drugs by injection or intranasally and adapt or review many prescriptions, relieving pressure on primary care providers and enabling people to access some types of care more quickly.

Once regulations are in place, it is expected patients may be able to get prescriptions from their local pharmacists for treatments for minor ailments, such as allergies, indigestion and acne, and for contraception. For example, a patient with a urinary tract infection may be able visit a local pharmacy for assessment and recommendations for treatment, instead of seeing a primary care provider, such as a doctor, or visiting the emergency room at a hospital due to a lack of options.

Community pharmacists will have additional support in renewing some prescriptions if needed for people who do not have a family doctor or consistent primary care provider. 

For example, pharmacists will now be able to administer long-acting antipsychotics by injection in a community pharmacy. They can also renew opioid agonist therapy for patients with substance use, up to the quantity last prescribed.

Quick Facts:

  • There are more than 6,500 registered pharmacists in B.C.
  • A 2018 review shows that patients see their pharmacists 1.5 to 10 times more frequently than their primary care providers.
  • A 2021 national survey found that 93% of Canadians would trust pharmacists to be a first point of contact in the health-care system.
  • A study in New Brunswick showed that prescribing for urinary tract infections by community pharmacists showed clinical cure in 88.9% of patients, high levels of patient satisfaction and increased accessibility to treatment.
New regulations enhance work of paramedics, first responders

People will now have more primary and emergency care services with new regulations in place that expand the range of services that paramedics and first responders can provide.

With the appropriate training and licensing in place, paramedics and first responders will be able to better assist and treat patients on scene. For paramedics, depending on licensing level, this means the ability to provide more interventions such as:

  • enhancing airway management skills; and
  • providing expanded life support and pain management procedures and medications during transport.

First responders will be able to:

  • provide additional diagnostic testing, such as blood pressure and blood glucose while on scene, that can better inform paramedics;
  • administer epinephrine when needed for a life-threatening allergic reaction; and
  • support the preparation or packaging of patients for transport by paramedics.

The Province worked closely with training institutions, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), the BC Association of Professional Fire Fighters, the Fire Chiefs Association of BC, the Emergency Medical Assistance Licensing Board and first responder agencies to finalize the regulations.

As work continues to implement the new regulations, these organization will be key to ensuring that consistent and appropriate training, assessment, oversight and continuing competency measures are in place to ensure that paramedics and first responders can provide the new services safely and competently.

The changes have been made after input and consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), the BC Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Fire Chiefs Association of BC, BCEHS, Emergency Medical Assistant training programs and paramedics in the industry. The changes are intended to update the scope of practice for paramedics and first responders to align with other jurisdictions and have been modernized to allow for the incorporation of future innovations in emergency technology.