COVID-19 health-sector plan for fall/winter 2020-21

Randi-Marie Adams

New Investment brings new support to those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and communities where they live
VICTORIA - The Province is investing $1.6 billion in a fall and winter preparedness plan that will significantly build upon and strengthen measures that respond to the health-care requirements of COVID-19.
The plan will provide new support to seniors in long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities, by ensuring more British Colombians than ever before can get a flu shot, and by reducing the chance for transmission of COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals.

The Government of B.C. is dedicating $44.1 million to launch the Health Career Access Program and recruit an estimated 7,000 health-care workers in long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities throughout the province. The program will provide a path for approximately 3,000 applicants who may not previously have had health-care experience to receive on-the-job training. New hires in the program will start in a health-care support worker position and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a health-care assistant.
It is a massive human resources undertaking that benefits the B.C. health-care system and economy.

"Expanding the number of health-care assistants in our province will significantly strengthen the level of care in long-term care homes," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "The Health Career Access Program will help people get trained for some of the most important jobs in B.C. These jobs ensure seniors get the quality care they need and deserve - 7,000 new health-care workers will make a huge difference in the lives of our seniors."

To further protect vulnerable British Colombians, the Province is providing $374 million to bolster public health measures, including significantly building out the fall flu immunization campaign. As part of this, 45,000 Fluzone-High Dose immunizations will be made available to all long-term care and assisted living residents. Fluzone-High Dose is a higher dose vaccine designed specifically to protect people over 65 from influenza. An additional 450,000 influenza vaccine doses will be made available in the 2020-21 influenza season, for a total of approximately two million doses.

The Government of B.C. is also dedicating $42.3 million to ease the pressures off B.C. hospitals and reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission in the hospitals. Hospital at Home, an innovative program that has succeeded in Canada and around the world, allows patients who meet the criteria to be offered 24/7 care at home rather than being admitted to hospital. Through in-person and virtual visits, patients will receive safe, effective care from nurses and physicians experienced in hospital medicine and acute care. Hospital at Home will launch through the Victoria General Hospital, then through additional hospitals over the coming months.

The Health Career Access program, enhanced fall immunization campaign and Hospital at Home are vital new additions to the B.C. pandemic response, but do not stand alone. A constant focus is to ensure that strength is added where necessary, and that it supports or enhances existing initiatives.

"On April 20, we announced help to rural, remote and Indigenous communities so they have access to critical health care during COVID-19 and beyond," Premier Horgan said. "On Aug. 12, we announced we were hiring approximately 600 additional health professionals to increase contact tracing capacity. To date, 86 have been hired, approximately 200 are in the interview and offer stage, and the remainder are in the screening phase. Work to increase testing continues, and this fall, lab capacity will allow for 20,000 tests per day. The Ministry of Health also continues to ensure the Province is equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE)."

Through its experience with COVID-19, the Province has learned and adapted to ensure its strengths and resources are developed and positioned to protect and keep safe those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

"All of these initiatives support our ongoing efforts to keep British Columbians healthy and stop the spread," Premier Horgan said.

To read the complete COVID-19 health-sector plan for fall/winter 2020-21, visit:

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