B.C. announces incentives to get more nurses working

Incentives to recruit nurses

Coverage of hefty application and assessment fees for internationally trained nurses, thousands of dollars in support and bursaries for those who return to practice, and faster processing are all part of a new incentive package unveiled Monday to address a nursing shortage.

Nurses are key to the health-care system, but demand is outpacing the supply, said Premier David Eby, who introduced the incentives at Langara College in Vancouver.

He noted 5,500 nurses have recently indicated they want to work in B.C., with 2,000 in the registration and assessment process.

The province announced it will cover upfront application and assessment fees of about $3,700 that have deterred some internationally educated nurses from putting their names forward.

The province is also providing more than $4,000 in new financial support to nurses who return to practice after “a period of absence” to cover application, assessment and certain travel costs. Nurses returning to practice will also be eligible for up to $10,000 in bursaries for any additional education required.

Some talented and skilled nurses with the right experience have been kept on the sidelines by an expensive and complicated registration process, said Eby, who expects a streamlined assessment pathway will see the registration process reduced to months from three years. The new pathway is expected to launch at the end of this month.

“This announcement means that there are nurses right now, 2,000 nurses right now that are in this approval pipeline that could be on the floor in hospitals within 90 days,” said Eby in a media availability after the announcement. “It is a remarkable shift.”

Aman Grewal, president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union who was at the announcement in Vancouver, said the changes offer hope for a strained and understaffed health-care system.

She said the Nurses’ Union has advocated for years for streamlining the application process for internationally educated nurses.

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