The British Columbia (BC) province in Canada has announced minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, retention and recruitment in acute care facilities by making investments worth C$237m ($154.59m).

The move comes after BC entered an agreement with the Nurses’ Bargaining Association (NBA) in April last year.

This initiative aims to improve patient care quality and working conditions for nurses.

As part of the development, the Ministry of Health identified six health-care settings for the implementation of these ratios.

For instance, most adult medical and surgical units will see one nurse for every four patients, while high-acuity units will have a one-to-two ratio.

This policy directive is effective immediately, with the Ministry of Health and BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) collaborating with health authorities for its implementation.

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The next phase will involve determining ratios for the additional hospital settings and non-hospital environments, such as long-term care, with an update expected by June this year.

The investment will bolster initiatives to retain current nurses, encourage those who have left to return, and recruit new talent into the healthcare system.

A substantial C$169.5m is allocated for one-time investment to enhance rural-retention incentives across the province and provide signing bonuses for various positions, in line with the NBA agreement.

An additional C$68.1m will support training and licensing, including the expansion of bridging programmes for internationally educated nurses and pilot programmes for nurse transitions.

In 2023 alone, BC registered 6,567 new nurses.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said: “Through our collaborative work with the BCNU, we are taking critical steps to address staffing challenges around the province.

“To meet these ratios, we’re making significant investments to retain our existing nurse workforce, support student nurses wanting to have a rich and rewarding career in BC’s health-care system and recruit more nurses.

“Building and strengthening our health workforce means a better workplace for health-care workers, quality care for patients and a stronger health-care system for everyone in BC.”