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What people are saying about new supports for allied health professionals
Updated on May 3, 2024

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health –

“By incentivizing allied health professionals to settle and practice in rural regions, we can improve access to medical services for people living there. It means people won’t have to travel as far for medical services, improving access to care and health equity for people living in rural and remote areas across B.C.”

Lorrie Cramb, Provincial Chief Allied Health Officer –

“Recruitment, retention and training incentives are critical to attract and retain a diverse allied health workforce. These investments will ensure our current workforce, new graduates, Indigenous and internationally educated allied health professionals are supported to work and stay in B.C., improve staffing levels and delivery of high-quality care for the people of B.C.”

Kane Tse, president, Health Sciences Association (HSA) –

“I hear every day from CT technologists, lab technologists, radiation therapists, PET technologists, respiratory therapists and many other specialized health professionals struggling through dire shortages and crushing workload. On their behalf, HSA welcomes these initiatives, developed by Health Minister Adrian Dix and his team after many front-line meetings. We believe they will help increase health-science professional recruitment in rural communities and in urban facilities facing the most severe shortages.”

Stephanie Smith, president, BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) –

“Representing over 25,000 workers in B.C.’s health-care sector, the BCGEU welcomes the ministry’s initiatives to strengthen the long-term sustainability of our province’s public health-care system. The investments will ensure more people have access to health care in remote communities. It’s also critical that staff have the mental-health and professional-development supports that this will help deliver for workers across the province.”

Lynn Bueckert, interim secretary-business manager, Hospital Employee’s Union –

“We applaud the Ministry of Health’s expanding efforts to support public health-care services through the new measures announced today. These additional tools, along with the government’s recent expansion of the provincial rural-retention incentives program to attract and retain workers from across the health-care team and the health-care access program that has brought 7,000 more care aides into the system, will continue to have a positive impact on the working and caring conditions in B.C.’s hospitals and long-term care homes.”

What to know about retention and recruitment initiatives

The Province is investing up to $133.1 million in retention and recruitment of allied health and clinical support workforce.

This includes providing $60 million ($20 million each) to the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA), Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Sciences Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA). The funding is intended to support members in the areas of mental wellness and professional development, aligned with the Health Human Resources Strategy and Allied Health Strategic Plan.

To support retention and career development, the Province is providing up to $15 million over three years for allied health clinical mentorship, peer support and transition-to-practice support for allied health new entrants, including new grads and internationally educated allied health professionals.

To continue supporting retention and recruitment efforts, the Province is investing up to $73.1 million in one-time funding, which will help with the unique staffing challenges faced in rural communities, as well as staffing difficulty to fill vacancies in urban and metro communities. The incentives will be retroactive to April 1, 2024, and are focused on:

  • Expanding the Provincial Rural Retention Incentive (PRRI). 
    • This incentive provides up to $2,000 per quarter, pro-rated to productive hours, to health-care workers working in eligible rural and remote communities to a maximum of $8,000/year, from April 1, 2024, until March 31, 2025.
    • This incentive was previously introduced as the Prototype Rural Retention Incentive by the Province in several rural communities in the north in 2021. The incentive was then expanded to several rural and remote communities in Interior Health and Island Health in 2022 and 2023 respectively.
    • The PRRI will be expanded to include 56 new communities across the province, bringing the total number of communities supported to 74.
    • All health-care workers are eligible for this program, provided they are employed in regular positions by a health authority or Providence Health Care (HAs/PHC) in eligible communities.

List of eligible communities include:

  • Fraser Health:
    • Hope
  •  Interior Health
    • Fernie
    • Elkford
    • Sparwood
    • Invermere
    • Creston
    • Golden
    • Kootenay Lake
    • Nelson
    • Castlegar
    • Arrow Lakes
    • Keremeos
    • Princeton
    • Enderby
    • Revelstoke
    • 100 Mile House
    • Clearwater
    • Williams Lake
    • Lillooet
    • Lytton
    • Ashcroft
    • Cache Creek
    • Clinton
    • Merritt
    • Grand Forks*
    • Kettle Valley*
  • Island Health
    • Salt Spring
    • Pender
    • Galiano
    • Mayne
    • Saturna
    • Bamfield
    • Port Alberni
    • Tofino
    • Ucluelet
    • Gold River
    • Mt Waddington*
    • Port Alice*
    • Port Hardy*
    • Port McNeill*
  • Northern Health
    • Stewart
    • Houston
    • Smithers
    • Kitimat
    • Atlin
    • Dease Lake
    • Terrace
    • Quesnel
    • Burns Lake
    • Fort St. James
    • Fraser Lake
    • Granisle
    • Vanderhoof
    • Mackenzie
    • McBride
    • Valemount
    • Daajing Giids*
    • Masset*
    • Port Clements*
    • Prince Rupert*
    • Port Edward*
    • New Hazelton*
    • Chetwynd*
    • Dawson Creek*
    • Tumbler Ridge*
    • Fort St. John*
    • Hudson’s Hope*
    • Fort Nelson*
  • Vancouver Coastal Health
    • Bella Coola
    • Bella Bella
    • Powell River City
    • qathet
    • Gibsons
    • Sechelt

*previously eligible for the incentives.

Recruitment incentives:

  • Providing signing bonuses for eligible allied health workers who join GoHealth BC. 
    • GoHealth BC is B.C.’s innovative travel health-care service in partnership with Northern Health Authority (NHA), as part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy - Action 34.
    • In March 2024, NHA and HSA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to start hiring HSPBA members into GoHealth BC. Medical-lab technologists will be the first allied health profession to be launched in select communities.
    • GoHealth BC deploys HA-employed travel staff to rural and remote communities across B.C.
    • By providing staff with the opportunity to take flexible, short-term deployments, GoHealth BC provides an alternative to agency work and supports sites in B.C. to stay open and sufficiently staffed.
    • Eligible health-care workers who join GoHealth BC between April 1, 2024, and March 31, 2025, in regular full-time or part-time positions are eligible for a recruitment incentive if they:
      • join the GoHealth BC program from outside of B.C.; or
      • are new to the public sector (have not been employed by a B.C. health authority or any other Health Employers Association of BC employer, or by a First Nation service provider or the First Nations Health Authority, or by a private/affiliate long-term care/assisted-living employer in B.C.) for a minimum of 12 months prior to joining GoHealth BC.
      • Health-care workers who are employed by third-party staffing agencies are eligible for the incentive if they meet the eligibility criteria above.
      • Eligible health-care workers will receive up to $10,000 in signing bonuses.
  • Offering signing bonuses to work in certain rural and remote communities.
    • To support the unique needs and challenges of working in remote communities, eligible health-care workers in priority occupations could receive up to $30,000 for filling identified high-needs vacancies in rural and remote communities.
    • Starting April 1, 2024, priority occupation health-care workers filling eligible positions will receive up to $30,000 in Northern Health, and up to $20,000 in rural and remote areas in other health authorities.
    • Eligible health-care workers will be required to sign a two-year return-of-service agreement.
  • Offering signing bonuses for difficult-to-fill vacancies in urban and metro communities:
    • The Province is focusing on staffing difficult-to-fill vacancies in urban and metro communities.
    • Health-care workers in priority occupations may receive up to $15,000 should they choose to accept a permanent position in eligible difficult-to-fill or high-needs vacancies, starting April 1, 2024.
    • Eligibility for the incentive focuses on health-care workers who are new to B.C.’s public-health system and those who may be returning to the system.
    • Eligible health-care workers will be required to sign a two-year return-of-service agreement. The ministry may determine in consultation with the relevant bargaining associations and unions that additional occupations can be added to the list. Eligible occupations under the CBA, FBA and HSPBA currently include:
      • Anesthesia assistant
      • Biomedical engineering technologist 
      • Cardiac technologist
      • Clinical counselor
      • Community health worker
      • Community support worker (mental health and addictions)
      • Dietitian
      • Environmental health officer
      • Medical laboratory assistant
      • Medical laboratory technologist
      • Medical radiation technologists (magnetic resonance imaging technologist, radiation therapist, radiological technologist, nuclear medicine technologist, PET technologist, CT technologist)
      • Occupational therapist
      • Perfusionist
      • Pharmacist
      • Pharmacy technician
      • Physiotherapist
      • Psychologist
      • Rehabilitation assistant
      • Respiratory therapist
      • Social worker
      • Sonographer
      • Speech language pathologist 
What to know about training and licensing investments for allied health

To bolster and support the growth of the health workforce in B.C., the Province is investing up to $7.6 million to:

  • Offer tuition credits for allied health students in high-demand programs. 
    • $2,000 per year in tuition credits for students enrolled in select undersubscribed programs at a public post-secondary institution.
      • Programs include perfusionist, medical lab technologist, medical radiological technologist, magnetic resonance imaging technologist, nuclear medicine technologist, radiation therapist, respiratory therapist, environmental health officer, advanced care paramedics, primary care paramedics, clinical counsellors, biomedical engineering technologists and rehabilitation assistants.
    • Additional $5,000 per year in tuition credits for Indigenous students enrolled in select programs at a public post-secondary institution.
      • Programs include physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist and dietitian.
  • Provide new graduates with bursaries for their licensing or certification exams. 
    • New allied health graduates will be provided with a $500 bursary to help cover the costs associated with their licensing or certification exams. This funding will be made available on an ongoing basis, retroactively applied to Jan. 1, 2023.
  • Support access to employer-sponsored earn and learn programs.
    • The ministry is funding the seat cost, tuition, books, fees and pre-requisites to support the education and training of combined lab and x-ray technologists in partnership with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and health authorities/Providence Health Care, which are funding an employee stipend and moving expenses.
    • The ministry will support kinesiology graduates with an interest in public health-care settings through grants that support them to complete the Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification.
    • Other high-demand employer-sponsored earn and learn programs are in development.
What to know about allied health recruitment progress in the province

Since 2017, the government has been working hard to increase the supply of allied health professionals in the province. A key component of these efforts is the development and implementation of the Health Human Resources (HHR) Strategy.

Supports for internationally educated physiotherapists (IEPTs) was launched in June 2023, with the addition of internationally educated medical laboratory technologists (IEMLTs) and IE occupational therapists (IEOT) in January 2024. Additional programs are under development.

The IEPT bursary program launched on June 12, 2023. Data to date:

  • IEPT bursary applicants - 261
  • applicants with signed ROS - 194
  • financial rewards distributed - 138 totalling $93,719.13

The IEMLT bursary program launched on Jan. 15, 2024. Data to date:

  • IEMLT bursary applicants - 288
  • applicants with signed ROS - 114
  • financial rewards distributed - 3 totalling $1,602.95

The IEOT bursary program launched on Jan. 15, 2024. Data to date:

  • IEOT bursary applicants - 34
  • applicants with signed ROS - 22
  • financial rewards distributed - 34 totalling $41,756.34