VICTORIA - Aspiring paramedics in British Columbia's rural communities will get the training they need thanks to $250,000 in new annual government
funding for a new Primary Care Paramedic program, Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk announced today.
"Our Skills and Training Plan aims to ensure that British Columbians have the right mix of skills, in the right places, at the right time," said Virk. "This new $250,000 demonstrates that we're actively addressing student demand for paramedic programs in rural B.C. and are focused on meeting the labour demands of all sectors for these essential skills."
The new program, due to start in February 2014, will be delivered by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). It will provide training for a total of 30 students, organized as two intakes of 15 students in two rural communities each year. It will help to meet current student demand for paramedic training and address the growing demand for paramedics in public and private organizations in rural areas such as the BC Ambulance Service and the oil and gas industries. The initial communities to benefit from the training will be Prince George and Cranbrook.
"This new rural paramedic training program will help ensure that we are meeting the growing demand for services while supporting the health of families in rural areas of the province," said Minister of Health Terry Lake.
"We welcome this announcement," said Dr. Michel Tarko, president of the Justice Institute of British Columbia. "Ongoing funding gives JIBC, in partnership with BC Ambulance Service, the ability to plan further ahead to meet the needs of rural and remote communities and to ensure that residents are aware of opportunities to pursue paramedic training without leaving their communities."
The Ministry of Advanced Education currently funds training for 200 Primary Care Paramedic student spaces each year, mainly in urban areas, with rural
training programs being run on a one-time basis as required. The commitment to annual funding for the new rural program will allow JIBC to plan and develop programming to meet the needs of industry and open up training to a wider catchment area.
"Better-trained paramedics means higher quality emergency medical care for patients and communities throughout British Columbia," said Michael MacDougall, president, BC Emergency Health Services. "Providing training closer to home supports our targeted recruitment efforts underway in many rural and remote areas of the province and helps many paramedics reach their career goals."
* In 2012-13, the Ministry of Advanced Education provided one-time funding of $276,800 for rural Primary Care Paramedic programs in Trail and Prince George.
* In 2011-12, the ministry provided one-time funding of $685,500 for rural programs in Port McNeill, Smithers, Dawson Creek, Prince George and Kamloops.
* Since 2001, the provincial government has added over 7,800 spaces in health and medical programs throughout the province with a total investment of almost $1.3 billion in operating and capital funding.
* The Emergency Medical Assistants Education Fund has provided financial support for over 400 paramedic students since it was established in 2007. Preferential consideration is given to Primary Care Paramedic applicants who are willing to practise in rural or remote locations. Further information is available at: www.jibc.ca/student-services/financial-aid- awards/emergency-medical-assistant-education-fund-award
For more information on The BC Jobs Plan and Skills Training Plan: http://www.bcjobsplan.ca/skills/bc-skills-and-training-plan/ Justice Institute of British Columbia: http://www.jibc.ca/