A salute to nurses

This week, I would like to dedicate my column to a group of very special and immensely important people in our province — nurses.

This week, I would like to dedicate my column to a group of very special and immensely important people in our province — nurses.

There are more than 36,000 registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and licensed graduate nurses in B.C. Our health-care system relies heavily on these men and women, especially here in the north.

My mother was a nurse for more than 20 years, and my mother-in-law was a nurse for more than 30 years. They both gave their time, care, and support to patients in both the public and private health-care system. May 9-15 was National Nursing Week and I am proud to celebrate the achievements and dedication of these two women, along with all other past and present nurses of this province.

In order to support nurses in B.C. our government has put in place what is called the B.C. Nursing Strategy.

Since 2001, more than $200 million has been invested through the B.C. Nursing Strategy to educate, recruit and retain nurses.

This program also ensures that undergraduate and newly graduated nurses get the support they need when entering the health-care system. Because of this encouraging environment, B.C. is the top destination in the country for Canadian-educated nursing graduates.

In the past 10 years, northern B.C. has seen an increase of 519 new nursing spaces, providing training for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nurses with graduate degrees. I am particularly proud of the B.C. government’s $2-million commitment to an Aboriginal Nursing Strategy, which is aimed at increasing the number of nurses of aboriginal ancestry working in B.C. This program has also ensured that quality nursing care is available to an increasing number of aboriginal communities in our province.

It takes a truly special and strong person to do the work nurses do. I have heard them described as angels in comfortable shoes, a sentiment I can truly share. The gentle balance of compassion, strength, empathy and respect that nurses provide patients on a daily basis across our province is something we should all be grateful for.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.