B.C. announces $2M in funding to expand paramedic training programs

British Columbia has announced approximately $2 million in funding to expand paramedic training programs.

The funding will go toward more than 100 participants in the Justice Institute of B.C.’s primary care paramedic certificate program in Chilliwack, Kelowna, New Westminster, Trail and Victoria.

Funding will also go toward approximately 30 students in emergency medical responder training — a prerequisite for the primary care paramedic certificate program — in Cranbrook, Port Alberni and Prince George.

Kathy Harms, director of the institute’s health sciences division, says the funding will give students the opportunity to pursue a career in paramedicine at a critical time.

“Paramedic students often indicate a high degree of financial need, and the program itself is very intense,” Harms said. “That makes the balance of work and school difficult for students to manage.”

Troy Clifford, the provincial president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., welcomes the funding and the opportunity to bring training into different communities. He says he hopes it can draw people to a career that is challenging but deeply rewarding.

“This is good news,” he said. Two million will train a lot of paramedics. With the ability to do it in more strategic locations, that’s crucial to help us keep people as close to home as we can.”

Andrew Mercier, minister of state for workforce development, says there will be a million job openings in the province over the next eight years, with more than 140,000 of those jobs in the health-care sector.

Last month, the province announced new measures to support Canadian-trained nurses who want to get back into the workforce, as well as internationally-trained nurses looking to practise in B.C.

For Canadian-trained nurses, the government will offer financial support of up to $4,000 to cover applications, assessments and eligible travel costs for current nurses to re-enter the system. There will also be up to $10,000 in bursaries for any additional education they might need to get back to work.

For nurses trained abroad, Eby said the province plans to spend $1.3 million to streamline the licensing process.