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Training more health-care assistants to support B.C.’s seniors

Training more health-care assistants to support B.C.’s seniors

January 21, 2021 at 8:57 am  BC, News, Politics

An $8.4-million investment in education and training programs will enable people to train for high-demand jobs as health-care assistants caring for B.C.’s seniors.

“We’re moving forward with our plan to expand the number of health-care assistants working in B.C. to strengthen the level of care for people in long-term care homes and assisted-living residences,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The Health Career Access Program is underway and is already helping train workers for some of the most important jobs in B.C.”

Government’s investment is creating the first 600 new training seats at public post-secondary institutions for health-care assistants as part of the Health Career Access Program. This was announced in September 2020 to meet the demand for health-care assistants in B.C.’s long-term care and assisted-living residences.

Participants in the Health Career Access Program will be hired in long-term care and assisted-living facilities as health-care support workers. They will be paid while they work and complete coursework to become health-care assistants. In addition, students who are currently completing a recognized health-care assistant program and who choose to take employment in the long-term care or assisted-living sector, and commit to a 12-month return-of-service, will be eligible for a recruitment incentive of $5,000.

“Government is investing in relevant programs to enable people impacted by COVID-19 to upskill or reskill so they can return to work or advance their careers,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This funding for health-care assistant programs supports training for highly valued and respected workers who provide important daily care for our seniors in long-term care and assisted-living facilities.”

In an example of training underway, Selkirk College is partnering with Interior Health to launch a cohort under the Health Career Access Program. Twenty-five participants from four different communities (Castlegar, Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks) are taking health-care assistant training in a new, work-integrated learning model while they work as health-care support workers. Programs are underway at public post-secondary institutions throughout the province, and more are expected to start early this year.

This investment in front-line health care is part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan to help thousands of people upskill or reskill and find their place in the post-COVID-19 economy. Targeted investments will help create opportunities through short-term training for in-demand jobs, Indigenous community-based skills training and education, targeted training for health and human services jobs, as well as a new funding stream for micro credentials.

StrongerBC outlines the steps government is taking to help people, businesses and communities recover and come out of COVID-19 stronger and better prepared to meet the challenges ahead. It is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response.


Sarah Lechthaler, LPN and health-care assistant program instructor, Selkirk College –

“I really enjoyed the preparation process for this launch. But it was so rewarding to see how grateful the students are for this opportunity – you could feel it on the first day of class.”

Quick Facts:

  • In addition to more than 1,000 ongoing health-care assistant seats annually, new incremental funding of more than $17.4 million since 2017 has supported over 1,500 additional one-time seats, including this $8.4-million boost for training to address staffing needs in assisted-living and long-term care facilities aggravated by COVID-19.
  • Health-care assistants provide personal care in a variety of health-care settings including acute-care hospitals, long-term care homes, assisted-living facilities, group homes, residential care and community care.
  • Health-care support workers are supervised by nurses or other regulated health-care professionals and provide a variety of non-clinical, non-direct care supports to patients and residents.
  • Investing in health-care sector education means people are getting trained for high-demand jobs and British Columbians can get the care they need now and in the future.

Learn More:

Health Career Access Program:

Fast-track skills training opportunities in B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan:

A backgrounder follows. 

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