Tuesday, March 12, 2024

In Legislature comments Monday, MLA Rice hails Government strategy on health recruitment; notes of Prince Rupert Challenges

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice spoke to some of the Health Care issues facing British Columbians and in particular Prince Rupert residents on Monday morning.  

Ms. Rice  who was participating remotely, made for the last speaker in the morning session, providing for a strong defence of the approach that the BC NDP government has taken when it comes to dealing with the challenges when it comes to health care staffing.

"I appreciate the opportunity to rise on this motion. It's really important. I appreciate the passion that all speakers have displayed today. I'm also someone who has a lot of passion, particularly for rural health. 

It is no secret that we are currently facing a health human resources crisis, not just in B.C. but nationally and globally. We face new challenges today. Our communities are growing. Our population is aging. Our doctors and nurses are tired and retiring. I want to acknowledge that. I understand and I fully comprehend what the member before me said around our doctors being so burnt out. I recognize that. 

Despite all these challenges, though, we are, as a government, committed to providing accessible and timely health care for people across the province. That includes expanding our health care workforce and ensuring that they have healthy and inspired workplaces. 

And we will continue to invest in rural and remote communities and take innovative actions to ensure that appropriate and timely health care services are provided to patients close to where they live." 

The Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health also outlined some of the measures from over 1 billion dollars in support for health care that the province and Health Authorities have put in place since the NDP formed government in 2017.

"We have made progress. Is there more to do? Absolutely. But thanks to this strategy, we have had some successes, quite a few. 

Over 4,000 family physicians are registered for the longitudinal family physician model, last year in 2023. Over 6,000 nurses were newly registered last year. This is including over 600 internationally educated nurses. 

Over 7,000 people have been hired into the health career access program, also known as HCAP, which includes almost 200 workers who self-identify as Indigenous. More than 1,000 new permanent full-time paramedic and emergency responder positions have been added. B.C. emergency health services has added over 500 new full-time and part-time permanent paramedic positions in rural and remote areas. 

It's through these measures that we have welcomed more than 38,000 new workers to the provincial health system during the past five years. 

We know that meeting the growing need for more health care providers is a priority. That's why we have enhanced funding and incentives for physicians living and working in, particularly, rural and remote areas. 

For example, in partnership with the province, Northern Health recruitment incentives might also include assistance with travel, with housing, with child care."

Ms, Rice also made her first comments related to recent health care concerns in her own riding, speaking to the current situation in Prince Rupert when it comes to access to doctors.

The MLA advising that more doctors are on the way for Prince Rupert patients, though she offered no detailed timeline towards that replacement program. 

She also made note of the recent diversion of services from the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital Emergency  Department, which saw the Emergency Department closed late Friday night for 8 hours until Saturday morning.

"Locally, here in Prince Rupert, I understand people are rightfully concerned when they hear their family physician is leaving. 

However, I also want to note that more doctors are coming. 

And It is concerning when an ER faces a diversion. We know there's more work to do. There is no denying that, and we're committed to keep doing more.

Last week I met with ten local physicians in Prince Rupert just to say: "Thanks for all you do." 

And I want to just take this opportunity to give a shout-out to our local docs, who have been working extremely hard to maintain a level of service that our community expects. 

It's also through collaborations with community leaders, organizations, First Nations, local governments, that we also need…. We need this collaboration to help create unique, innovative solutions in attracting and retaining the health workforce we need."

The video of her presentation to the Chamber is available from the Legislature Video archive at 11:57 AM

Ms. Rice's comments followed those of a number of MLA's speaking to health care issues across the province as part of the Monday morning session.  

That debate taking place under Motion 20, the MLA's speaking to the Recruitment and Training of health care professionals in BC. The larger debate can be reviewed starting at the 11 AM mark of the discussion on the motion.

Ms. Rice also posted the video to her Social media stream mid Tuesday morning.

More notes of interest from the BC Legislature can be reviewed here.

A look at health care in Prince Rupert and the northwest can be explored through our archive pages.


  1. The province has been spending big money on Urgent Care facilities down south. As a resident of Prince Rupert I don’t care how many doctors have been hired provincially. I would like to know as my MLA what steps you have taken and are going to take to improve my situation in Prince Rupert.
    No party spin please.

    1. Well, we have a vending machine. Sorry, a wellness machine in front of the hospital.
      That’ll solve so many of our problems.

  2. City Hall can get more involved in the recruitment and retention of teachers, doctors, and other professionals by cleaning up the town and making it presentable.
    Rupert is competing for these professionals against many other communities.
    A new sign and website isn’t going to make a Doctor or Teacher choose Rupert versus the likes of Smithers, Nelson, or Parksville for example.