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BC Government: Investment brings new support to those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and communities where they live

Press Release

VICTORIA – The Province is investing $1.6 billion in a fall and winter preparedness plan that will significantly build upon and strengthen measures that respond to the health-care requirements of COVID-19.

The plan will provide new support to seniors in long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities, by ensuring more British Columbians than ever before can get a flu shot, and by reducing the chance for transmission of COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals.

“The actions we are taking today are a big step to help protect everyone in our province as we head into the fall, and in doing that, will also help lessen the impact the pandemic has had on our economy,” said Premier John Horgan. “We know people have stepped up to stop the spread, and right now we need good people to step forward to help deliver these life-saving initiatives.”

The Government of B.C. is dedicating $44.1 million to launch the Health Career Access Program and recruit an estimated 7,000 health-care workers in long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities throughout the province. The program will provide a path for approximately 3,000 applicants who may not previously have had health-care experience to receive on-the-job training. New hires in the program will start in a health-care support worker position and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a health-care assistant.

“It’s anticipated that up to 7,000 health-care workers will be hired this fall and winter,” Premier Horgan said. “We’re looking to people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, particularly those who were employed in the hospitality industry. They understand service. They understand the importance of treating people as individuals and they know it’s essential to treat people with respect and dignity. Those critical core skills, with our specialized training, will provide them with a rewarding, well-paying career that will make a significant and positive impact on our health-care system and the seniors who rely on it.”

It is a massive human resources undertaking that benefits the B.C. health-care system and economy.

“Expanding the number of health-care assistants in our province will significantly strengthen the level of care in long-term care homes,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The Health Career Access Program will help people get trained for some of the most important jobs in B.C. These jobs ensure seniors get the quality care they need and deserve – 7,000 new health-care workers will make a huge difference in the lives of our seniors.”

To further protect vulnerable British Columbians, the Province is providing $374 million to bolster public health measures, including significantly building out the fall flu immunization campaign. As part of this, 45,000 Fluzone-High Dose immunizations will be made available to all long-term care and assisted living residents. Fluzone-High Dose is a higher dose vaccine designed specifically to protect people over 65 from influenza. An additional 450,000 influenza vaccine doses will be made available in the 2020-21 influenza season, for a total of approximately two million doses.

“The COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever to protect yourself and your family from influenza,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. “By getting immunized against influenza, you’re protecting yourself and those who are vulnerable to complications from the flu. Staying healthy also helps to reduce strain on our health-care system as we deal with COVID-19. Getting the flu shot is safe and effective, and this year more than ever, I ask everyone who can to get a flu shot.”

The Government of B.C. is also dedicating $42.3 million to ease the pressures off B.C. hospitals and reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission in the hospitals. Hospital at Home, an innovative program that has succeeded in Canada and around the world, allows patients who meet the criteria to be offered 24/7 care at home rather than being admitted to hospital. Through in-person and virtual visits, patients will receive safe, effective care from nurses and physicians experienced in hospital medicine and acute care. Hospital at Home will launch through the Victoria General Hospital, then through additional hospitals over the coming months.

The Health Career Access program, enhanced fall immunization campaign and Hospital at Home are vital new additions to the B.C. pandemic response, but do not stand alone. A constant focus is to ensure that strength is added where necessary, and that it supports or enhances existing initiatives.

“On April 20, we announced help to rural, remote and Indigenous communities so they have access to critical health care during COVID-19 and beyond,” Premier Horgan said. “On Aug. 12, we announced we were hiring approximately 600 additional health professionals to increase contact tracing capacity. To date, 86 have been hired, approximately 200 are in the interview and offer stage, and the remainder are in the screening phase. Work to increase testing continues, and this fall, lab capacity will allow for 20,000 tests per day. The Ministry of Health also continues to ensure the Province is equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).”

Through its experience with COVID-19, the Province has learned and adapted to ensure its strengths and resources are developed and positioned to protect and keep safe those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

“All of these initiatives support our ongoing efforts to keep British Columbians healthy and stop the spread,” Premier Horgan said.

Learn More:

To view the presentation, visit:

To read the complete COVID-19 health-sector plan for fall/winter 2020-21, visit:

For more information on the Health Career Access Program, visit:

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit:
Or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit:
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

Four backgrounders follow.


Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
[email protected]
250 818-4881

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)


Budget allocation

The Ministry of Health has received approval to access an operating budget increase of up to $1.6 billion in operating funding and a capital budget increase of $150 million in 2020-21 to respond to the health-care requirements of COVID-19. This includes:

$374 million for public health measures:

  • Immunization: $30 million, including $18.8 million for flu and anti-viral vaccines and harm reduction supplies; $10.8 million for additional public health staff, $0.4 million for warehouse costs.
  • Contact tracing: $46.9 million to hire 600 staff to support contact tracing.
  • Lab testing: $88.8 million to strengthen lab testing, including $76.9 million for nucleic acid testing; $5.3 for serology testing; $6.4 million for increased lab capacity and $.2 million for support costs.
  • BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) capacity: $18.3 million to increase staffing of up to 144 full-time equivalents (FTEs) at BCCDC.
  • Simon Fraser University (SFU) fellowship research: $15 million in 2020-21 for the creation of a Centre for Pandemic Studies led by SFU and the University of British Columbia.
  • BCCDC Foundation: $10 million for critical research, leveraging other donations.
  • Rural, Remote and Indigenous Community Framework: $58.5 million for health care in rural, remote and Indigenous communities to improve residents’ access to critical and culturally appropriate health care, including an additional 55 ambulances and paramedic crews, and additional fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for patient transport.
  • Rural and remote virtual care: $33.1 million to improved access to virtual health care, including doctor of the day, to connect remote patients and their families to a doctor or nurse.
  • Digital services: $21.4 million for additional hardware, software and staff to support virtual services.
  • Staff isolation: $24.2 to support health-care staff throughout the province with self-isolation costs including accommodation, meals, travel and cost-of-replacement staff.
  • Public health capacity: $27.8 million for additional public health staff.

$416.6 million for community and long-term care measures:

  • Infection prevention and control: $1.7 million to provide training and supplies for 450 community care and long-term care homes throughout the province.
  • Incremental costs: $26.6 million as one-time block funding to address costs incurred by long-term care and assisted living service providers such as deep cleaning, meal delivery, personal protective equipment (PPE) and security.
  • Single site wage top-up: $165.4 million to cover health-care staff and service-provider costs related to the single-site directive, which restricts staff to work in one facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Screening staff and visitors: $122.4 million for up to four new staff per site for long-term care and assisted living facilities throughout the province to support infection prevention and control for a total of 1,752 FTEs.
  • Additional staff: $97.5 million for an average of five new staff to address operational capacity in the long-term care and assisted living sector at 584 sites throughout the province, for a total of 2,920 FTEs.
  • Virtual care: $3 million funding to strengthen virtual care services in primary care networks and team-based care locations.

$783.9 million for recovery and increased health capacity:

  • Surgical strategy: $187.5 million for enhanced surgical capacity, including additional nursing staff and operating room costs.
  • Hospital at Home: $42.3 million staffing and support costs to care for select patients at home.
  • PPE: $146.7 million for additional PPE across the health-care system.
  • Screening staff: $33.1 million to staff to screen visitors and staff across 138 sites, with up to three FTEs per site.
  • Other human resources costs and overtime costs: $191 million to help cover an anticipated 3% overtime increase as staff stay home when sick.
  • Recruitment and training: $44.1 million for health authority and Health Employers Association of BC recruitment of 4,000 staff and for training of 3,000 new entry level community/long-term care staff at an average $12,000/FTE.
  • Health capacity: $24.5 million funding for 31 FTEs for each health authority and for $2.4 million for the Ministry of Health.
  • Supply and logistics: $27 million to expand the supply management system throughout the province.
  • Lost revenue: $87.6 million to replace lost parking, other revenues and miscellaneous costs.

$150 million for renovations and equipment to support the health-care system to respond to COVID-19:

  • Renovations: $45 million to renovate operating rooms, intensive care units and high-acuity units.
  • Beds and stretchers: $21.6 million for an additional 633 beds and stretchers to respond to surges in requirements.
  • Ventilators: $12 million for an additional 488 ventilators to support critically ill patients throughout the province.
  • Monitors and defibrillators: $10 million for additional monitors and defibrillators to supply ambulances and aircraft for the rural and remote strategy.
  • IT infrastructure: $25.3 million to enhance networks, hardware and software across health authorities.
  • Lab testing equipment: $15.8 million for additional testing equipment, freezers, safety cabinets and related equipment to enhance laboratory testing throughout the province.
  • BCCDC warehouse upgrades: $4.3 million to replace and enhance vaccine refrigeration and cold storage handling systems at the BCCDC.
  • Medical imaging: $2.9 million to support increased capacity for medical imaging including equipment, technology support for patient reminders, and additional technical support staff
  • Ambulances: $12.4 million to replace/refurbish 55 existing ambulances and purchase of eight new ambulances.


Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
[email protected]
250 818-4881

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)


Health Career Access Program

Health-care support workers provide non-clinical supports to patients and residents, including housekeeping and help with mealtime. Health-care assistants provide front-line personal care to seniors, people living with disabilities, people with chronic illnesses or receiving palliative care. Health-care assistants can work in long-term care and assisted living facilities, provide community home support and contribute to care in hospitals.

The starting salary for health-care support workers is approximately $20 an hour. Health-care assistants earn approximately $23 an hour.

How the Health Career Access Program works

First step: Submit an expression of interest by providing your first and last name, email address, postal code, telephone number and preferred health authority region where you want to work. Applicant information will be reviewed and qualified applicants will be connected to an employer. This will take about three weeks.

Second step: Complete basic training. All health-care support workers will receive basic training on the job, provided by the employer. The core of this training will be standardized provincially to ensure that new hires have everything they need to start working safely and effectively.

Third step: Additional training. Employees are entered into a structured training program delivered as a partnership between the employer and an established post-secondary institution. Upon completion of the program, the employee earns a recognized post-secondary credential and is eligible to register as a health-care assistant.

Applicants must demonstrate the following qualifications:

  • Grade 10 education, including the successful completion of English 10 or equivalency skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Ability to establish and maintain relationships with clients/residents
  • Ability to work independently and in cooperation with others
  • Physical ability to carry out the duties of the position
  • Ability to operate related equipment


Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
[email protected]
250 818-4881

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)


Fall influenza campaign

Each year, about 3,500 Canadians die from influenza and its complications across Canada. Hospitalized patients and seniors in residential care are more vulnerable to influenza than healthy adults.

The flu shot is free in B.C. to people at risk from complications, and their close contacts:

  • children between six months and five years
  • seniors 65 and older
  • pregnant women
  • Indigenous peoples
  • individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems
  • anyone who lives with any of these people
  • visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals

The nasal spray flu vaccine is provided free at public health clinics and physicians’ offices to children two to 17 years of age who are at risk of serious illness from influenza or who live with someone who is at risk.


Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
[email protected]
250 818-4881

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)


Personal protective equipment (PPE)

The Ministry of Health continues to ensure the Province is equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).

The following PPE has arrived in B.C. from March to Aug. 31:

  • more than 6.3 million N-95 or equivalent respirators;
  • more than 50 million surgical or procedure masks;
  • more than 2.6 million pieces of eye protection, including goggles and face shields;
  • more than 90 million pairs of gloves and approximately eight million gowns.

Items and equipment that have recently arrived are put through a testing process to make sure product meets or exceeds safety requirements before being used in B.C.’s health-care system.


Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
[email protected]
250 818-4881

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: