Minimum Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Established

March 01, 2024
Significant step towards improving health care for nurses and patients

After years of advocacy, BCNU welcomes today’s announcement by government that outlines the province’s commitment to implement minimum nurse-to-patient ratios (mNPRs) in hospitals across BC, marking an important milestone on the path to become the first jurisdiction in the world to have a minimum staffing standard of one nurse for every four patients in medical/surgical units 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

BCNU President Adriane Gear joined representatives from the province to announce details of this critical policy solution that was first announced in April 2023.

The Ministry of Health and BCNU will begin work with health authorities to implement the policy directive issued in support of this first phase of establishing mNPRs.

Minimum nurse-to-patient ratios are being established in the following care areas within the acute hospital setting:

General Medical/Surgical Inpatient (Adult/ED/Pediatric)* 1:4 24/7
Rehabilitation 1:5 Day/Evening
1:7 Night
Palliative 1:3 24/7
Focused (Special) Care (Adult/Child) 1:3 24/7
High Acuity/Step Down (Adult/Child) 1:2 24/7
Intensive Care (Adult/Child) 1:1 24/7

*General medical/surgical ratio applies to admitted medical/surgical patients being held in the ED.

The province has also announced an investment of $237 million in one-time funding initiatives to help retain, return and recruit new nurses into the health-care system. This includes $169.5 million for the expansion of provincial rural retention incentives and $68.1 million for training and licensing investments.

Since the fall of 2023, working groups comprised of leaders and staff of BCNU, the Nurses’ Bargaining Association, the Ministry of Health and the Health Employers’ Association of BC have been meeting regularly to prepare for the planning and implementation of mNPRs, establish frameworks for monitoring and evaluating their impact, and to develop polices for effective nurse retention, return and recruitment. This work continues, and an mNPR announcement for remaining hospital settings and non-hospital settings, such as long-term care and health authority community settings, is scheduled for June 2024.

Have Your Voice Heard 

The work has just begun. Direct care nurse engagement is critical for the planning and implementation of mNPRs in BC. We’re consulting with members through surveys and focus groups and seeking nurses’ participation in monitoring and evaluating mNPRs at worksites across the province. 

Put your name forward today 

Visit the Ministry of Health website to review the government’s new release.

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