Nurses across BC gathered in front of the BC Legislature in Victoria on Tuesday, May 10. The rally these healthcare workers are participating in aims to bring awareness to nursing issues that the province is facing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and toxic drug crisis have exacerbated a severe nurse shortage, and this has created working conditions that aren’t respectful or safe,” says BCNU President Aman Grewal.

“There is no health care without nurses, yet their concerns continue to be overlooked by government and decision makers.”

The rally is also in time for National Nursing Week. Instead of approaching the annual appreciation week with a celebratory tone, the nurses who’ve met up in Victoria are using the spotlight to highlight the major issues that their industry is facing.

“Nurses are fully dedicated to their patients, but the staffing shortages are at the point where nurses are burnt out as they take on extra responsibilities to ensure standards of care are met,” said Grewal.

“I fear that if action isn’t taken to retain the nurses we have, we’ll see many more making the difficult decision to quit.”

BC’s latest Labour Market Outlook states the province will need upwards of 26,000 nurses by 2031. However, 51 per cent of nurses surveyed by BCNU last year said the experience of the pandemic had them considering leaving the profession altogether.

“So many nurses go to work every day wanting to provide safe patient care, but the health-care system is understaffed and overwhelmed,” Grewal noted.

“We are hopeful that today’s calls for real action will be loud enough to reach the offices of those here at the Legislature.”
BCNU also hosted a “Vigil to Heal Heath Care” on Monday, May 9 in Victoria’s Confederation Garden Court. The vigil gave nurses, first responders and family members a unique opportunity to share in their grief and reflect on the health-care system’s struggles these past few years.

“The government acknowledges the significant toll this has had on the nursing workforce. That’s why we are dedicated to actions that grow, retain and support nurses in the province,” Minister of Health, Adrian Dix said in a statement released last week.

“On April 19, 2022, government announced new supports for internationally educated nurses. These new supports include the consolidation of the provincially based assessment processes for internationally educated nurse candidates, approximately $9 million in bursaries to help with assessment fees and new nurse navigator positions to guide candidates through the assessment and licensing processes.”

Dix also mentioned the addition of 602 new seats for nursing students across the public post secondary institutions in BC. This addition was made back in late February.

“Our government is committed to ensuring nurses have the support they need to continue to care for people province-wide. Through these commitments, we’re not only expanding the future nursing capacity in the province, but creating pathways to incredibly rewarding, long-term and family-supporting careers,” said Dix.

“On behalf of the provincial government, I thank the nurses who provide and continue to provide the best care possible for their patients. And I encourage people everywhere in the province to take a moment this week to recognize what all nurses have done and continue to do for us all.”