The issue of nurse shortages has been plaguing the Province of B.C. for years. The shortages have contributed to the alarming rate of E.R. closures in many cities across the province. As this problem persists, one of the solutions the Province is exploring is education. B.C. is now offering a $3-million bursary fund for healthcare assistants registered in an access to practical nursing (APN) program from Sept. 1, 2021, to May 31, 2024, at a qualifying public post-secondary institution. The aid will support healthcare assistants with their education which will help increase the number of nurses to address the province-wide shortage.

“I’m proud to support healthcare assistants in their continued pursuit of education to become licensed practical nurses,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This bursary will create new avenues for individuals seeking long-term, rewarding and in-demand careers in our healthcare system. It’s another step forward in a series of announcements to come addressing immediate healthcare needs in B.C.”

Public post-secondary institutions in B.C. offering an APN program qualify for the bursary if they are recognized by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM). Currently, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology is among these approved institutions.

“This bursary could be the game changer for a healthcare assistant looking to make the leap into nursing,” said Ivy McRae, head of the NVIT Health Department. “If you have ever been curious about the potentials of becoming an LPN now is the time to explore that. Our healthcare system needs you ; our healthcare co-workers need you, and our most vulnerable people need you.”

$10,000 will be granted to healthcare assistants to cover tuition and fee costs. Participants will be required to sign a 12-month return-of-service agreement, committing to work in the healthcare system following graduation from the program.

“Together, we’re making a better life for British Columbians. We’re accomplishing this by improving access to much-needed health services in our province, and providing amazing career opportunities for people,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

“With these bursaries, we’re making education more affordable and accessible for people to make the leap and upskill from healthcare assistant positions to practical nursing; a valued career that is in very high demand.”

This announcement builds on the 602 new nursing seats added to public post-secondary institutions throughout the province in February 2022 and 322 allied health-related seats in July 2022.

“Providing more supports for people to upskill and expand their careers is a key priority as we look to fill an expected one million job openings coming to B.C. over the next 10 years,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Our government is committed to continuing our work with the health sector to find new ways to remove barriers to employment for people so we can increase the number of healthcare staff available to support British Columbians as soon as possible.”