B.C. to roll out minimum nurse-patient ratios in deal union ‘has waited years for’

B.C. to roll out minimum nurse-patient ratios in deal union 'has waited years for'

The union representing British Columbia’s nurses says a new staffing model agreement with the province will significantly improve support for its members as well as overall care with the introduction of mandatory minimum nurse-patient ratios.

The care model includes hundreds of millions of dollars in funding over the next three years to implement minimum nurse-patient ratios — something the union says it has wanted for years — as well as a massive international recruitment strategy and expanded mental health and education resources for nurses.

“This is a historic investment and will make B.C. the best place in the country to be a nurse,” BCNU interim CEO and lead negotiator Jim Gould said in a statement.

Gould says the money, totalling $750 million through 2026, will lead to drastic improvements in recruitment and retainment, job satisfaction, workplace safety and work-life balance.

The agreement will see nurse-to-patient ratios adopted in hospitals, long-term care and community and non-hospital care facilities, with B.C. becoming the first province in Canada to implement this specific model, according to the province.

It’s hoped the funding will let nurses spend more time with patients and be able to rely on a strengthened support system when needed, said Premier David Eby, announcing the model Tuesday afternoon.

“This new staffing model will transform the way people are cared for by nurses as they will spend more dedicated time with patients,” said Eby.

“We also know that staffing shortages and public-health crises have significantly increased the volume of work that nurses do every day. To recognize that, our supports for nurses have also significantly increased, so nurse can focus on what they do best — care for people.”

A provincial executive steering committee has appointed representatives from the BCNU, Nurses Bargaining Association and Ministry of Health to oversee the staffing model “and ensure there is accountability on how the funds are spent.”

A recent poll of BCNU members found more than 80 per cent listed nurse-patient ratios as a top priority to improve working conditions, and the union added that research shows without mandatory minimum staffing levels, patient mortality can increase.

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