'Action is needed today': B.C. facing acute shortage of care aides for seniors, report warns

British Columbia is facing an emerging crisis in staffing shortages for seniors in assisted living and home healthcare, according to a new report

Province is short about 2,800 caregivers for those in assisted living and home health care, says BCCPA

The B.C. Care Providers Association says the province is short 2,800 caregivers for seniors. (Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

British Columbia is facing a growing crisis of staffing shortages in seniors care, according to a new report.

The B.C. Care Providers Association (BCCPA) says the province is short about 2,800 caregivers for seniors in assisted living and home health care — and has outlined priorities like forgiving student loans, attracting more high school graduates and reducing barriers for international students to address the shortage.

"A lot of seniors are waiting for the industry, for government to get moving, to get people trained and into care homes as soon as possible," said BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine.

"The time for talking has ended, and action is needed today."

By 2031, close to 25 per cent of B.C.'s population is projected to be at least 65 years of age, with the number of those 80 years and older set to double between 2011 and 2036.

The BCCPA's report, titled Situation Critical, shows staffing shortages have been exacerbated by high levels of care-worker burnout, retirements, and injuries on the job that become more likely as workers age.

The report's recommendations calls on the government to:

  • Raise awareness about job opportunities in the seniors-care sector;
  • Improve access to education by providing partial bursaries;
  • Expand loan forgiveness programs in rural and remote communities;
  • Ensure international care aides have credentials recognized in a more timely way;
  • Expand work-permit eligibility for international students.

The NDP said it would spend more than $1.5 billion on health care-related spending for seniors in the last provincial budget. 

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