BC Nurses' Union president Gayle Duteil speaks at a rally protesting the nursing shortage at the B.C. legislature

B.C. aims to hire 1,600 more nurses

Registered nurse positions first promised in 2012, but only 500 filled since then and the rest needed by March 31

The B.C. government is planning to catch up on its long-standing nursing shortage by hiring 1,643 full-time Registered Nurses by the end of March.

Health Minister Terry Lake and B.C. Nurses’ Union president Gayle Duteil announced Tuesday they have reached a staff increase agreement that has been the main obstacle to signing a new contract. The previous deal expired nearly two years ago, and the dispute over staffing was headed for arbitration.

Duteil said the last BCNU contract in 2012 contained a commitment to fill these positions, but more than 1,600 have not been.

“To the nurses working 16-hour shifts today, to the nurses working short in the emergency department and operating rooms across B.C., to community nurses with overwhelming caseloads, this agreement means relief is on the way,” Duteil said.

Lake said the first priority is to offer full-time positions to some of the 7,000 casual nurses working in B.C. Nurses from other provinces would be the next choice, and international recruiting would take place after that.

“I think there will be a pool of nurses who may be moving back with their families to British Columbia, given the economic downturn in Alberta,” Lake said.

By region, the plan targets recruiting of 400 nurses for Fraser Health, 300 for Interior Health, 290 for Island Health, 100 for Northern Health, 235 for Vancouver Coastal Health, 238 for the Provincial Health Authority and 80 for Providence Health Care, which runs St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Fraser Health CEO Michael Marchbank said each nursing position costs the health authority about $100,000 a year, and the new positions can be accommodated from existing budgets.

NDP health critic Judy Darcy questioned whether that many nurses can be hired in little more than two months, after the original 2012 promise to hire more than 2,000 nurses has only resulted in about 500 up to now.

“We know that the long waits for hip replacement, knee replacement, you name it, has been due to shortages, including nursing shortages,” Darcy said. “We’ve been paying incredible overtime. Huge burnout, high injury rates, wait lists, hallway medicine, all of those things are a consequence of not having met this promise.”

Duteil said 16-hour shifts have become “the new normal” for many RNs, and the agreement is a relief. She urged casual nurses in B.C. to contact the union by email immediately at hireanurse@bcnu.org to express interest in the new positions.

 

Just Posted

Third cannabis store in Greater Trail opens next week

The City of Trail has had six applications from non-medical pot retailers to date

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

How the Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure affected you

Here’s what readers had to say about the company’s shutdown

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

West Kootenay U16 Rebels take home provincial gold

West Kootenay Rebels fastball team battle hard to win the BC U16C Fastball Championship

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Most Read