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B.C. nursing shortage a crisis, union says

B.C. is looking overseas to fill some of the 1,000 nursing vacancies in the province.

Province hopes to streamline recruiting and assessment of foreign nurses to get them into the system faster

The nurse staffing shortage in B.C. is a crisis according to union. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

The B.C. Nurses Union says the province is grappling with a nursing shortage so severe it's a crisis.

Gayle Duteil, president of the BCNU, says a shortage of specialized nurses is starting to cause problems in everything from operating rooms to intensive care units around B.C..

"At this time we have over 1,000 vacancies across the province in specialty areas." Duteil told CBC. "These are acute units: They're emergencies, they're operating rooms, they're recovery rooms, they're ICUs. And it's a very serious matter."

The Ministry of Health says one solutions is to recruit more international nurses. A program aimed at streamlining the evaluation process a foreign nurse must undergo to get a job in B.C. will be launched in April of 2016.

An email sent to CBC from the Ministry of Health stated, "By simplifying the process, it can help internationally educated practitioners enter the work force faster based on their skills, education and experience."

The email goes on to say that the Ministry is currently advertising for nurse recruits in the U.K., Ireland and U.S., as well as actively recruiting specialty nurses from within North America.

The ministry also says it will be investing $5 million in training for specialty nurse training, and that it has doubled the number of training spaces for nurses since 2001.

With files from Tim Weekes

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