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Hundreds of new nursing seats are being made available for students at public post-secondary institutions in BC, including the University of Victoria (UVic).

On Sunday, officials announced that 602 more seats—part of the government’s StrongerBC Economic Plan—would be introduced across 17 schools, adding to the approximately 2,000 seats already available.

This includes 362 extra seats for registered nursing, 40 for registered psychiatric nursing, 20 for nurse practitioners and 180 for licensed practical nursing.

BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) president Aman Grewal praises the investment and says it’s a promising step towards “addressing the staffing crisis that is currently crippling our healthcare system.”

“Nurse staffing levels were already critical before the pandemic, responsible for creating cracks in the system that have only deepened. Now, our nurses are tired, they’re burnt out, and they need more support,” Grewal said.

She’s pointing to a recent BCNU survey, which gathered responses from nearly 3,500 union members—35 percent of whom said their experiences with the pandemic make them more likely to leave the profession.

SEE ALSO: Nurses Union wants solutions for BC’s healthcare system

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adrian Dix finds that the past two years have shown “just how critical our health workforce is.”

“By supporting post-secondary institutions like the University of Victoria … we’re not only expanding the future nursing capacity in the province but creating pathways to incredibly rewarding, long-term and family-supporting careers,” explained Dix.

Along with UVic, other Vancouver Island schools benefiting from new seats include Vancouver Island University, Camosun College and North Island College.

The seats will also support healthcare assistants who want to train as licensed practical nurses (LPN), plus LPNs looking to move into a registered nurse (RN) career.

The BC government says it provided $5 million to public post-secondary institutions in 2021-22 for the expansion, with another $8.7 million supporting health educational training programs.

It’s all part of Budget 2021, which saw an investment of $96 million over three years to support expanded post-secondary education and training capacity for the health profession workforce.

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