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

READERS’ CHOICE: Saluting the stars of the Saanich Peninsula

Welcome to the Peninsula News Review’s 13th annual Readers’ Choice Awards, our… Continue reading

A sled dog with an amazing past shows a young pug the ropes

A local school bus driver and passionate dog lover has written his… Continue reading

Victoria airport workers rally on Tuesday

Food service workers call for improved working conditions

Veyaness Road development gets go ahead

Contentious housing by-law passes on split vote

Delivery truck downs power lines in Sidney

A tractor trailer delivering eggs clipped a low-hanging wire on Second St.… Continue reading

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Former Vike returns to lead women’s rowing program

Williams rowed for UVic, Oxford and Canada

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Most Read