B.C. seniors to get the hours of care they need as funding and staffing increased

The British Columbia government is increasing staffing levels in residential care homes to make sure seniors are getting the quality care they need and deserve, Premier John Horgan announced today.

Premier Horgan said by investing $240 million over three years, government will increase the direct care seniors receive to 3.36 hours per-resident day, on average, in each health authority, by 2021. This will mark the first time this average has been reached since the Ministry of Health set that target almost 10 years ago.

“In a province where people come first, it is unacceptable that B.C. seniors in residential care have gone so long without the level of care they need,” said Horgan. “The investment we’re making today means B.C. will finally hit its own target and deliver the quality care seniors deserve.”

In 2016, the average direct care hours was 3.11 per-resident day. With this new investment, that average will increase to 3.24 by 2019, and reach 3.36 by 2021. Progress has been made by with almost 270,000 more care hours now being provided by converting part-time and casual staff to full time. New funding of $48.4 million this year will add more than one million hours of care.

“Staff in residential care homes work incredibly hard and do a fantastic job,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “But when residential care homes are understaffed, staff are challenged to deliver the level of care seniors deserve. That is why we’re working to provide the staffing needed to make life better for seniors and the people who care for them.”

This investment will mean better working conditions and benefits for health-care aides. Currently, more than 50% of aides are working part-time or casual shifts. In 2017-18, 330 health-care aides were converted to full-time positions, with another 500 to follow this year.

By the end of the strategy, the Ministry of Health estimates that approximately 1,500 new full time equivalent positions will be added, including:

  • 900 health-care aides;
  • 165 registered nurses;
  • 300 licensed practical nurses;
  • 50 allied health-care professionals (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers); and
  • 100 other health-care workers, including rehabilitation assistants, activity aides and other allied health-care workers.

As announced in April 2018, this is part of the strategy to make sure B.C. is equipped with a well-staffed health-care sector, with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training providing approximately $3.3 million to create 384 new health-care aide seats in 11 post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.

In addition, dedicated funding is being provided to support seniors to continue living in their own homes longer and help delay or avoid them having to move to residential care.

As part of Budget 2018, $75 million over three years is being dedicated to expand respite care and adult day programs to better support family and friend caregivers.

Delivering better services and care to seniors is a shared priority between government and the B.C. Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.


Isobel Mackenzie, seniors advocate –

“B.C. seniors and their family members will welcome this significant increase in the care hours that support the most-frail and vulnerable seniors living in care homes throughout B.C. It will mean more help with bathing, feeding and socializing, all the issues identified by those who live in our care homes as what they need.”

Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees’ Union –

“Caring for seniors is all about relationships. With this significant investment, front-line staff will get the help they need to provide seniors with compassionate, timely care. And it will make work safer for care aides who have the highest injury rates in the health sector.”

Val Avery, president, Health Sciences Association –  

“This investment in multidisciplinary health-care teams to make sure that seniors get the care and support they need is long overdue. Combined with an increase in hours of care and improved staffing levels, I am confident we will see improved outcomes and quality of life for some of the most vulnerable people we care for.”

Stephanie Smith, president, BC Government and Service Employees’ Union –

“Years of under-funding created a residential care system in B.C. where everybody was losing. Seniors weren’t getting the care they deserved and staff were risking injury and burnout due to understaffing, but couldn’t make ends meet due to working casual or part-time hours. Thanks to our new government’s investment, we’ve taken a big step towards a residential care system where everyone wins.”

Christine Sorensen, president, British Columbia Nurses Union –

“The BC Nurses’ Union welcomes any additional resources that will see seniors provided with the care they need and deserve, which the union has long been calling for. We look forward to more focused, long-term and sustainable solutions at the bargaining table.”

Quick Facts: 

  • Residential care homes offer seniors 24-hour professional supervision and care in a safe and secure environment.
  • The majority of people moving into residential care are over the age of 75 years, and make up 89% of all residential care clients.
  • As of March 31, 2018, B.C. has 27,913 funded residential care beds. Of these, 9,112 are health authority operated, 18,801 are privately operated.
  • In 2016-17, there were 754 complaints about residential care, up 6% over the last year. The top complaint category, at 14.3%, was for inappropriate type or level of care.
  • In addition, in 2016-17, there were 488 reported incidents of resident to resident aggression in residential care facilities, up from 418 in 2015-16.
  • Approximately 50% of health-care aides in B.C. are part-time or casual.
  • Through Budget 2018 government is investing $548 million over three years to improve care for seniors, including investments in primary care, home and community care, residential care and assisted living.
    • This funding comes on top of the $249 million in federal funding for home and community care, which will assist many seniors, and in addition to $221 million from the Ministry of Health’s base budget allocated for seniors’ care.
    • This brings the total commitment over the next three years to approximately $1 billion.

Learn More:

For more information on residential care:

For more information on Budget 2018: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/