More people are getting care faster and closer to home, and the health-care workforce is better supported as the Province makes significant progress on expanding the health-care workforce and strengthening B.C.’s public health-care system.
“We’re putting people first by making unprecedented investments into B.C.’s health-care workforce and system,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “In response to rapidly growing patient demand for health-care services and a global shortage of health-care workers, we launched B.C.’s Health and Human Resources Strategy last year to recruit, retain and train more health-care workers. We said we’d hire, educate and retrain more health-care workers, and we did. We said we’d make our health-care workplaces more supportive to share the workload, and we are. We said we’d keep working to expand and support our health-care workforce until our health-care workforce and system was renewed, rebuilt and strengthened for patients and for those caring for them, and we will.”
Government has made significant progress to better support patients who rely on the public health-care system by adding more doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, allied-health professionals, health-care assistants, and support staff and adding new education and training seats, taking actions to improve retention, and to optimize the system to help with workload. Key achievements include:
- 3,882 family physicians registered for the longitudinal family physician model in 2023, a blended model available to family physicians who provide longitudinal care, developed in consultation with BC Family Doctors and Doctors of BC;
- 6,258 new nurses have registered with the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives, including 578 internationally educated nurses in 2023;
- adding more than 1,000 new permanent full-time paramedic and emergency responder positions;
- more than 7,000 people have been hired into Health Career Access Program where they gain non-clinical experience as a health-care support worker in long-term care, assisted living, home health and acute-care settings across B.C. while training to become a health-care assistant;
- 2,112 participants have been hired this year, including 188 workers who self-identify as Indigenous;
- 666 International medical graduates registered in 2023;
- 602 nursing seats, up to 322 allied health seats, 20 seats for midwives and 60 physician residencies added since 2017;
- under their newly expanded scopes of practice, pharmacists are now treating minor ailments and providing contraception services, prescription adaptations, and drug administrations, reducing pressure on primary care; and
- hired all 320 relational security officers in health-care settings throughout B.C.
In the next year, the Province is moving forward with nine more actions to better support patients and health-care workers. This includes:
- Retain: Creating a peer support and mentoring program that empowers experienced health-care workers to support new entrants.
- Retain: Establishing front-line clinical management supports in high-needs areas so that staff have adequate support from senior clinical staff.
- Retain: Launching new professional practice and clinical education roles to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and clinical practice improving patient safety and supporting continuous improvement.
- Redesign: Further expanding GoHealth BC, the provincial travel resource program supporting rural and remote communities across B.C. to provide supports to additional rural and remote communities across the province and add more health-sector occupations such as allied health to this service.
- Recruit: A new provincial recruitment campaign that profiles B.C.’s health-sector advantage and streamlines the job search, recruitment and hiring process for candidates will launch in early 2024.
- Recruit: Expanding opportunities for high-school students to explore health-sector training opportunities, including new dual credit programs in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Child Care.
- Recruit: Launching an innovative program to support new graduates both in nursing and allied health to transition to practice within the public health-care system.
- Train: Expanding the employed-student nurse program and developing a new complementary employed-student allied-health program to help students build confidence, reinforce clinical skills and explore different practice settings while being paid for their time.
- Train: Implementing a new and innovative bachelor of science in nursing practice education model that allows nurses to train for a specialty of interest in their final years of school, rather than waiting to take a separate specialty training course after graduation.
These actions are part of the Health Human Resources Strategy, launched in fall 2022. They also build on other investments made by the Province since 2017 to strengthen health care for people in B.C., including investments of more than $1 billion to support health-care workers and increase access to health services. Over the past five years, B.C. has welcomed more than 38,000 new workers to the public health-care system and is actively working to significantly grow the workforce further.
“In our B.C. pandemic, people came together to support each other," Dix said. "And it’s that B.C. experience, that B.C. strength, that essential B.C. character we’ve carried to our Health Human Resources commitment, bringing in new people, new skills and new approaches to help those delivering our health care, so all of us can better access the health care and support we rely on. We’ve made tremendous progress, and our commitment remains to ensure that our health-care system is strong, sustainable, and resilient.”
To read the one-year update of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/HealthHumanResourcesStrategyOneyearUpdate-December2023.pdf
For the technical briefing information, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/TechnicalBriefingslidedeck_HHRStrategyUpdate_December2023.pdf
To learn about B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0059-001464
Three backgrounders follow.