Nurse-to-patient ratio, financial incentives coming to B.C. to help with recruitment and retention

Nurse-to-patient ratio, financial incentives coming to B.C. to help with recruitment and retention

B.C. is implementing nurse-to-patient ratios and providing financial incentives to help with recruitment and retention in hospitals.

In hospital-based care settings, nurse-to-patient ratios will be set, which the province says has helped with reducing patient mortality and improving retention in other jurisdictions.

Story continues below

However, there is no timeline for when these ratios must be implemented. There will also not be incentives for nurses who have to work out of ratio, nor penalties for hospitals that schedule out of ratio.

The province says there is a strong commitment from the BC Nurses' Union, government and health authorities to stick to these ratios.

B.C. is the first Canadian jurisdiction to implement nurse-to-patient ratios. A 2021 observational study found that staffing ratios where a nurse was assigned to fewer than five patients was lower than when nurses were assigned to five or more patients.

The province will provide an update on nurse-to-patient ratios in other health care settings outside of the hospital in June 2024.

In addition to the ratios, the province is investing in training and upskilling nurses and investing in recruitment and retention.

Training nurses

For training, the province is allocating $68.1 million for students enrolling in nursing programs. Students will receive a tuition credit of $2,000 each year, and Indigenous students will receive an additional $5,000 per year.

There will also be a $500 bursary for new graduates for licensing exams with the funding being applied retroactively to Jan. 1, 2023.

Internationally educated nurses will have access to additional funds for transitional or remedial education programs so they can become licenced in B.C.

Recruitment and retention

The province is implementing signing bonuses for difficult-to-fill vacancies in urban and metro communities. Eligible positions will come with a signing bonus of up to $15,000 if they accept a permanent position. This comes with an agreement of working in the role for at least two years.

Certain rural and remote communities will have a signing bonus of up to $30,000 in the north, or $20,000 in other rural and remote areas. This also has an agreement to work in the role for two years.

Starting April 1, 2024, nurses who are new to working in B.C. or are returning to work as a nurse in the public health system will be eligible for a signing bonus of $15,000 if they choose a regular position with GoHealth BC, which is the province's travel nursing program.

Recruitment in 2023

The province says it recruited 6,567 newly registered nurses between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2023.

Between Jan. 1, 2023 and Jan. 31, 2024, 1,774 internationally educated nurses began working in B.C. Of that, 806 were able to register as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, 828 were required to take additional training, and 140 are registered as health care assistants.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!