4000 Health Care Workers in BC, Canada, Told By Health Minister to “Get a New Job”

On October 26, British Columbia Health Minister, Adrian Dix, told over 4000 unvaccinated health workers to get a new job. They have been terminated.

“throughout the pandemic these individuals risked their lives and were regarded as heroes”

The BC Area article states, While many in the community celebrate the departure of those workers, accusing them of being ‘against science’ or not wanting to get over this pandemic, others have tried to remind us that throughout the pandemic these individuals risked their lives and were regarded as heroes; they risked their livelihoods and careers over making this choice for themselves.

I cannot imagine how people could be celebrating the departure of health workers.

This loss of skill will not only affect nurses in hospitals, but numerous areas of health care.

Here is a breakdown by region as reported in Kelowna Now.

  • British Columbia-wide: 4,090 unvaccinated, 2,626 partially vaccinated
  • Interior Health: 1,369 unvaccinated (7%)
  • Northern Health: 376 unvaccinated (5%)
  • Island Health: 678 unvaccinated (3%)
  • Fraser Health: 644 unvaccinated (2%)
  • Vancouver Coastal Health: 522 unvaccinated (2%)
  • Providence Health: 122 unvaccinated (2%)
  • Provincial Health Services: 496 unvaccinated (2%)

Note that Interior Health is losing around 7% of their healthcare workers. The list does not include the 1,1996 long-term care or acute care workers who were suspended without pay on Oct. 12, as reported by CTV News Vancouver, bringing the total to over 6,000 workers.

A CBC article related that B.C.’s Minister of Jobs and Economic Recovery, Ravi Kahlon, said the B.C. government will invest in the health-care system to mitigate any challenges that arise from workers choosing not to get vaccinated and, ultimately, being let go.

In the same article Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC, estimates that up to 200 of 4,500 paramedics in the province risk job loss. 

The ambulance shortage in BC was felt keenly during the summer heat wave as reported by The Globe and Mail in the article, ‘This isn’t a heat wave issue’: B.C. paramedics say there’s a systemic crisis in emergency care.” Here is an excerpt:

At least 719 people died in a week during the heat wave, three times what the BC Coroners Service says would be normal for that period. BC Emergency Health Services did not activate its emergency coordination centre until the day the heat began to subside.

“Our entire pre-hospital system collapsed, and it collapsed with warning that it was going to collapse,” a Greater Vancouver paramedic, who Global News is not identifying to protect his employment, said in an interview Friday.

The paramedic told Global News that one of the major problems first responders have faced for years is the requirement to stay at hospitals with the patients they are transporting until beds or nurses are available.

He said that often results in delays of 30 minutes to several hours, during which they are unavailable to take urgent calls.

“We have eight paramedics at any given time that are held at (Vancouver General Hospital), that are held at Burnaby General, because the nurses are overwhelmed with the amount of patients coming in,” he said.

Back in February of 2021, Vancouver City News reported a paramedic shortage that left 29 ambulances unstaffed on a weekend and increased urgent wait times to one hour and non-emergency calls up to 16 hours. A woman who had fallen on a sidewalk and broken her hip would be considered non-emergency.

Troy Clifford blames failures in recruitment and retention, a situation which hasn’t happened overnight and highlights issues with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), responsible for running the ambulance service, and Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), the health authority that BCEHS falls under.

Nurses are overwhelmed at hospitals when ambulances arrive because hospitals are short of nurses. I am interested hearing just how the province plans to “mitigate” this exodus of workers. Since it takes 4-5 years to train an R.N., perhaps we can have an increase in nurses in five years. It’s unlikely that we will recruit nurses from other countries and leave them short, but it could happen. Throughout the pandemic our nurses have travelled to the U.S. to work, as they did beforehand. Maybe some of these nurses can be recruited.

And this is not a new problem. It is a “long-standing problem exacerbated by COVID-19,” according to a July 16, 2021 article in The Globe and Mail, entitled, Canadian nurses are leaving in droves, worn down by 16 merciless months on the front lines of COVID-19. Hospital beds have been closed, emergency hours scaled back and operating rooms shuttered. The Ontario government offered $75,000 bonuses to attract experienced out-of-province critical care nurses.

“We’ve seen nurses leave and leave and leave,” said Bernard Mathieu, an emergency physician at Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital. “We see new, fresh nurses come in for orientation who decide not to stay because they see the quality of life they’re being offered is terrible.”

The article says that in Manitoba, more than 60 emergency doctors from three hospitals in Winnipeg sent a missive to the province, warning of epic levels of burnout. “Many senior experienced nurses in our EDs have resigned, while many others are planning to leave,” the letter said. “Morale and staffing are at all-time lows. We view the situation as critical, unsustainable and in need of immediate action.”

The reassurance from the Minister of Jobs and Economic Recovery regarding mitigating the problem is anything but reassuring.

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