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

Hope Search and Rescue assist in flood response

Evacuation alerts and river monitoring carried out by HSAR together with the District of Hope

Chilliwack prolific offender a no-show for sentencing hearing

Warrant issued on May 17 for Jeffrey Michael Kizmann wanted for robbery

‘We’re not out of the woods yet’: Hope Mayor on flooding

Gabion diking system installed, residents urged to stay clear of river banks

UPDATED: Pedestrian fatally hit on railway in Agassiz

Police, fire and ambulance responded

WATCH: Semi-trailer fire along Highway 5 put out twice in one day by Hope crews

Fire chief warns drivers taking video to slow down and move over to avoid further accidents

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Drivers could pay $8 per day to help cut gridlock under new plan

Mobility pricing report outlines two existing models to cut Metro Vancouver congestion by 20-25%

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

Trans-Canada Highway reopens to traffic early Friday morning

Most Read