The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically highlighted the serious shortcomings of BC’s health care system. This includes the chronic nursing shortage that led to difficulties in providing patient care during the public health emergency. An underfunded health care system puts a heavy physical and mental strain on nurses and other health care professionals. The BC Nursing Union (BCNU) has reported on the physical and mental strain of those working in direct patient care that affects the desire of nurses and allied health care workers to remain in the profession.
There have been some new potentially positive developments in response. The BC government has announced supports to help hire and train more nurses, subsidies to help nurses re-enter the system, bursaries to upgrade training, and stream-lining the licensing process for foreign-trained nurses. The plan includes placing internationally educated family doctors to work in rural and urban communities in three-year placements.
While some of these new policies are promising, the BCNU points to other chronic challenges facing nurses that need to be addressed. The BCNU has organized a petition due to the large increase in costs of college licensing fees for nursing. The petition also includes these comments: “Despite the sky rocketing cost of living, BC nurses still have yet to receive either wage increases, subsidies, reimbursement, or incentive to compensate for inflation. BC nurses are also working in some of the most unsafe, draining, understaffed, and over census work environments to date…”