The British Columbia government announced on Tuesday that it is adding more than 300 places in public post-secondary institutions for students training in certain health professions, including laboratory technicians and physiotherapists, amid shortages. of personnel which has exacerbated the constraints within the health system.
The announcement came a week after the premiers met in Victoria, where they called on the federal government to increase its share of health funding to deal with a staffing crisis that forced the temporary closure of services emergencies across the country, has resulted in record levels of worker burnout. and created barriers to Canadians’ access to health services.
Anne Kang, BC Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, announced that up to 322 additional permanent and one-time funded college and university spaces for allied health professionals will be added.
In British Columbia, the allied health workforce provides a range of preventive, diagnostic, technical and therapeutic health care, as well as clinical support services. These professionals include medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and dietitians.
More than two-thirds of new spaces will be added by fall 2023, with some starting as early as summer 2022.
Additionally, Ms. Kang said the provincial government is spending more than $10 million to train, retain and support allied health professionals, which includes $4.5 million in scholarships for high-priority internationally trained allied health professionals. who wish to obtain a license in British Columbia.
Premiers call for increased health care funding to address staffing crisis
The government is providing $3 million in professional development funding to the Health Science Professional Bargaining Association to support health science professional development training and development in professions such as medical laboratory technologists and pharmacists, and 1 $.5 million to support 36 Facilities Bargaining Association employees to become medical laboratory assistants to address critical shortages.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are often important public discussions focused on the importance of doctors and nurses, but health science professionals or allied health professionals have also “been of fundamental importance during the pandemic”.
Kane Tse, president of the Health Sciences Association of BC, which represents more than 20,000 health science professionals working in nearly 70 professions, said allied health professionals are in dire need.
“Every day, I hear from specialized health professionals such as respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, laboratory technologists and many others. They really struggle. They tell me about vacancies being posted that go unfilled for months and months at a time, leaving them drowning in workload as they continue to try to provide patient care,” he said. he declares.
“It’s just not sustainable.”
Mr. Tse welcomed the announcement, calling it a step in the right direction that will increase the recruitment of many health science professionals who are in dire need at the moment.
He added that his association is negotiating with the provincial government to resolve the problem of the retention of specialized health professionals. “And that starts with a fair pay raise.”
He noted that some of these professionals are leaving BC’s public health care system because they can earn more in the private sector or in other provinces.
A representative of the British Columbia Hospital Employees Union, which represents more than 2,400 medical laboratory assistants, agreed on the importance of retention.
“We had a staffing crisis before this global pandemic, but each new wave of COVID-19 brings healthcare workers closer to the brink. We know that one in three of our members is considering leaving health care in the next two years due to job stress and burnout. We need to invest in our frontline workers to sustain our healthcare system and ensure that patients receive quality care when needed,” said Meena Brisard, Secretary-Chief Commercial Officer of HSE.
We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our British Columbia and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada confronted. register today.