British Columbians will soon benefit from as many as 322 more allied health professionals supporting their health-care needs as new training seats are added to public post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.
Additionally, the Province is providing bursaries to internationally educated allied health professionals and existing health authority employees to meet increasing demand for health professionals in B.C. and to help make training more affordable.
“Building up and supporting our health workforce is our biggest priority,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Our communities have been telling us how important the need for more health services is, and we are listening. You are heard. That’s why we’re supporting public post-secondary institutions to expand and create pathways to get more health workers into the system. We’re on our way to seeing hundreds of new allied health workers join an incredibly rewarding long-term career. Our commitment does not stop here. We know more needs to be done, and we will continue our work to grow B.C.’s health-care
workforce.”
In B.C., the allied health workforce provides a range of preventative, diagnostic, technical and therapeutic health care, as well as clinical support services. They contribute specialized expertise, education, research and leadership, often working as integral members of a collaborative health-care team to improve the health and well-being of British Columbians.
The new training seats include:
– 278 ongoing allied health seats throughout the province;
– one-time funding for 24 seats at Vancouver Community College, supports for students at Camosun College, and regional distribution of Thompson Rivers University’s Open Learning program for urgently needed medical laboratory assistants;
– a new bridging program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia to help advanced-care paramedics trained in other provinces and countries transition to practice within B.C.; and
as many as 20 one-time fast– track seats for respiratory therapists at Thompson Rivers University.
More than two-thirds of the intake for these seats will happen by fall 2023, with some starting as early as summer 2022.
“We are committed to making lives better for British Columbians. Expanding training and preparing a new generation of health-care workers is essential to our health-care system and people’s well-being,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By investing in health programs and training-related equipment and space, we are training the passionate health professionals of tomorrow.”
The new seats build on recent investments to expand allied health programs in the province.
In 2021-22, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training provided $3.5 million to public post-secondary institutions to expand allied health seats, with an investment of nearly $18 million total planned by 2024. The Ministry of Health, through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, also provided approximately $8.7 million in 2021-22 to support health education programs, which included the expansion of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) sonography program, the expansion and distribution of the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) occupational therapy and physical therapy programs, as well as new anesthesia assistant students at Thompson Rivers University.
Investing in new training seats is a key pillar of the StrongerBC Economic Plan, which aims to close the skills gap with a generational commitment to accelerate talent development and skills training for British Columbians.
“Expanding training for health-care workers is an important part of our StrongerBC Economic Plan,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “These new seats in allied health programs will create opportunities for British Columbians and help fill the one million new job openings expected over the next decade.”
In addition to seat expansions, the Province is also investing more than $10 million in bursaries and professional development funding to help train, retain and support allied health professionals.
Dix added: “Everyone in B.C. deserves high-quality health care and that begins with accessible and affordable training for health-care workers. This announcement is a significant investment in health human resources across the system and will help support health-care providers and patients now and into the future.”