Budget 2024 Prioritizes Health Care but Not Those Delivering the Care

February 22, 2024
Spending lacks specific retention initiatives to support nurses

The BC Nurses’ Union welcomes targeted investments outlined in today’s budget announcement that aim to better serve rural and remote communities, support the provincial Cancer Action Plan, further invest in mental health and addiction programs, and provide additional funding for home and community care for seniors.

While these commitments stand to improve the lives of many British Columbians, BCNU would have liked to have seen more nurse-specific retention and recruitment strategies and a detailed health human resources plan to support the $13-billion-dollar capital investment in health-care infrastructure.

“Investments are good but to deliver, we need nurses,” says BCNU President Adriane Gear. “As we consider the government’s efforts to support British Columbians, we cannot forget how critical a role nurses play in implementing many of the programs and investment strategies announced today.”

Work is underway to establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, a critical policy solution first announced April 2023 by the provincial government and BCNU. Once implemented, they will improve patient care by reducing risks of preventable death, shorten hospital stays, reduce the number of re-admissions, and increase patient satisfaction. They also help to retain the nurses currently in the system, return nurses back to the bedside and recruit the nurses we need in the future.

“We need to be laser-focused on retaining the nurses working in the system now, creating the working conditions to return nurses to the system and recruit the ones we needed to provide quality health care,” says Gear.

The most recent data from Statistics Canada (Q3, 2023) shows there are 5,465 vacant job postings for LPNs, RNs, RPNs across BC.

BCNU believes the government must concentrate on effective retention strategies that keep nurses working in their communities, including affordability measures targeted to nurses, a provincially coordinated plan to address systemic workplace health and safety concerns, and greater access to education seats for nurses at all stages of their career.

To arrange an interview, please contact BCNU’s Communication Department at media@bcnu.org

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