While BCNU applauds the provincial government’s focus on children, families and vulnerable populations in its 2020 budget, there are concerns about the lack of investment for the current and future nursing workforce. BCNU president Christine Sorensen says the government has done little to address the province’s nursing shortage or come up with a clear plan to address the projection that BC will need upwards of 25,000 new nurses in the next 10 years to keep up with health-care demands. “The government projects that BC’s population is expected to grow by more than one-million people in the next 15 years. What are they doing to ensure there are enough skilled nurses in the workforce to manage the health-care needs of this growing population?” she says. “This budget does very little to support BC’s skilled nursing workforce.”BCNU wants to see a health human resources plan applied to the government’s 13 new or upgraded hospitals announced over the last year. “We are pleased to hear of the capital infrastructure investments that are desperately needed to manage complex population needs across BC,” says Sorensen. “However, there is no government strategy to figure out how to staff these facilities. Where are the nurses and health-care professionals going to come from?” she asks. Sorensen says the government’s new BC Access Grant, aimed at making life more affordable for BC students, should be extended to include nursing students and all health-care programs. “This budget includes mention of a nursing degree program in Fort St. John. That program will support 32 seats in full capacity. We welcome this effort, but this is not going to be enough to meet this province’s demands.” Besides a health human resources plan, Budget 2020 provides no mention of funding for protective services for nurses, or reducing the systemic use of overtime, which cost the government $160-million in 2018/2019.“The government says they want to improve services for British Columbians,” says Sorensen. “In order to do that, they need to invest in nurses and health-care professionals who are dedicated to providing care every single day. We believe attention needs to be paid to developing a long-term plan that builds a robust, skilled workforce. This will allow us to manage the healthcare needs of our province into the next decade.”
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