In every sector of our health care system, the demand for highly skilled nurses is growing. As the profession evolves and the scope of practice continues to grow, LPNs, RNs and Nurse Practitioners are an increasingly valuable contingent within healthcare workforce.
During the pandemic, these hard-working professionals did heroic work. Growing demand for new nurses in many jurisdictions has now contributed to a shortage of nursing professionals across Canada.
Additionally, more and more students have the desire and skills to serve their communities by entering the health care workforce. Nursing is a rewarding career with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Nova Scotians. Due to the growing demand for training in nursing programs, many students experience wait times to enter nursing programs.
To address this, the Rankin government will commit to further expanding training opportunities for future nurses by making targeted investments in our post-secondary programs to ensure that more spaces are available to train nurses to meet our growing demand.
Nurse Practitioners in primary care
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide high-quality care for patients and their growing scope of practice helps reduce the workload for family physicians, increasing access to primary care for Nova Scotians.
The Nurse Practitioner Education Incentive was first announced in July 2018 to increase the provincial supply of NPs particularly in areas of greatest need in primary health care. The incentive covers the salaries of RNs while they attend the Dalhousie University Nurse Practitioner Program on a full-time basis. A return-of-service agreement commits these newly trained nurses to five years of service in primary care settings in specific communities.
A re-elected Liberal Government will commit $1.5 million to double the funding available for the Nurse Practitioner Education Incentive while adding an additional $500,000 to expand seats in the Nurse Practitioner Program at Dalhousie University. These programs will be made available for RNs who are committed to working in rural communities with the highest rates of unattached patients for five years, providing better access to primary care for Nova Scotians.
More Licensed Practical Nurses
Students willing to embark upon a career in nursing should have timely access to training at NSCC. We must ensure that our post-secondary institutions have the capacity to produce the skilled workers we need to meet the growing demands of our healthcare system.
A Rankin government will invest $4.05 million over three years to create 270 new LPN seats at the Nova Scotia Community College. The additional workforce is critically important to support the expansion of healthcare infrastructure, both in our hospitals as well as our continuing care sector.
More Registered Nurses
The Liberal Government has committed to significant investments in healthcare to enhance access to services for Nova Scotians. Examples include enhancing mental health access for Nova Scotians; expansion of public health capacity; transformation of the continuing care sector; greater access to primary care; and major infrastructure development projects such as the Cape Breton Redevelopment and QEII New Generation projects, additional hospices, dialysis units, and long-term care beds.
Permanently increasing the number of BScN seats at Cape Breton University and Dalhousie (Yarmouth campus) will address the forecasted demand for RNs required to support government investments in new and expanded provincial health care facilities.
Approval of ongoing funding to support CBU to improve the recruitment and retention of Mi’kmaq and Indigenous and African Nova Scotian students into the BScN program, and more broadly into the sciences, is a targeted action to help to address the historic under-representation of both Mi’kmaq and Indigenous students and African Nova Scotian students in nursing programs and enhance diversity in the nursing workforce.
We also know that Cape Breton relies heavily on locally trained nurses to fill vacancies within the health system, while Dalhousie’s Yarmouth Campus supplies the majority of nursing positions in the Western Zone.
The Rankin Government’s investment of $6 million to permanently add 70 new nursing seats, 62 at CBU and 8 at Dalhousie Yarmouth, brings the total investment in new nursing seats to $18.2 million by 2026-27, with $3.2 million in annual ongoing funding. This investment includes 10 reserved seats for Indigenous students and 10 reserved seats for African Nova Scotian students, increasing the diversity of our healthcare workforce.