The Province of B.C. announced that it will cover assessment fees, which costs more than $3,700, to remove financial barriers for internationally educated nurses (IENs) who want to work in B.C. The faster and more efficient assessment pathway looks to bring in more nurses to support the B.C. health-care system. 

“Supporting nurses is key to our work to making health care accessible to all British Columbians. Still, the demand for nurses is outpacing the supply,” said Premier David Eby. 

“There are talented and skilled nurses with the right experience who want to practice in B.C. and support high-quality care, but they are kept on the sidelines by an expensive and complicated registration process. Whether a nurse was trained in or out of the province, we are ready to welcome those who are ready to care for British Columbians.”  

After the announcement of the $12 million investment by B.C. to provide bursaries for IENs in April 2022, 5,500 people have expressed interest in working in B.C., with 2,000 people actively working through the various stages of the registration and assessment process. More than 90% of nursing applications received in 2022 by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) came following these changes.

In September 2022, the Province also committed up to $1.3 million to set up a more efficient new pathway for IENs to obtain licensure in B.C. The funding will support BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) and the Nursing Community Assessment Service in creating a new streamlined approach to assessment and registration, so that more IEN applications can be assessed by BCCNM each year. This is expected to reduce the waiting period for nurses looking to work in B.C., from three years to approximately four months to nine months.

This announcement is part of B.C.’s broader Health Human Resources Strategy, which was announced on Sept. 29, 2022. The strategy supports patients by ensuring they get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. It focuses on 70 key actions to retain, recruit and train health-care workers, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.

The Province is also providing new financial support to nurses returning to practice after a period of absence. Nurses looking to return to practice will no longer be required to pay a $300 application fee, and more than $4,000 in financial support will be available to cover assessment and eligible travel costs for nurses taking assessments in order to re-enter the workforce.

Nurses returning to practice will also be eligible to access as much as $10,000 in bursaries for any additional education required for returning to practice.  

“By removing the barriers for more nurses to join our health-care workforce, we are ensuring that people throughout the province have greater access to the health services they need, when they need them,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. 

“Our government will continue to take action to recruit and train more health-care workers to meet the health-care needs of British Columbians. In creating more accessible careers for nurses in B.C., we are delivering on our commitment to build a sustainable health system for many years to come.”