PEACE REGION -- The Peace River Regional District has deferred awarding more money to local nurses hired by Northern Health.

The Health Agency was requesting that Return to Service scholarships be awarded to registered nurses from the Medical Health Care Scholarship Reserve.

The amount totalling $45,500 for 18 nurses, 13 of which falling under the Return to Service category, was to be funded from the scholarship balance that sat at over $112,000 as of December 31, 2023.

“It’s a signing bonus, and we don’t know signing bonus,” said board member Dan Rose.

The scholarship program was formed to incentivise healthcare workers to train and work in the region.

The PRRD says the nurses do not qualify under the conditions of the scholarship program because they were already hired by Northern Health last year, making them ineligible under the scholarship guidelines. 

“It triggers the attention of what the scholarship program is, and whether we’re meeting those original intentions as far as the RN agreement goes,” continued Rose.

Northern Health says the money being released would help with staff retention in the region.