Workforce development is a critical issue facing BC First Nations. In 2009 the First Nations Health Council completed the first ever comprehensive environmental scan of workforce issues facing First Nations in BC. The scan looked at international models of workforce development as well as BC and Canada models. Some of the key findings covered:
· Methods for attracting People into Health Studies
· Supports for Students once they start University
· Health Curriculum at University
· Recruitment and Retention of Workforce in Health Services – international experiences
· Challenges to working in health services in BC – Inappropriate and Insufficient Services
· Workforce Capacity and Capability
· Funding for Health Services affecting ability to attract and retain an appropriate workforce
· Cultural Competency of Health Services
· Issues with Recruitment of First Nations staff
· Issues with Retention of First Nations staff
· Unique Skills needed by staff working with First Nations communities
In 2009 a follow up study was undertaken to try to gather information on the numbers working in First Nations health services. This survey was completed by 80% of BC’s 123 First Nations health organizations (of which some were umbrella groups and some individual) covering 180 of the 203 communities in BC – and revealed that for this proportion:
· Overall demography of the Workforce – there were a total of 1,076 people working in the health organizations altogether – of which 73% were identified as being of First Nation descent.
· There were a total of 1,265 positions with the majority of positions being in the home care field and corporate / administration area, followed by Registering Nurses and Community Health Workers.
· The region with the highest number of positions in First Nations health centers is the northern region
· Of all workers, 50% are identified as full-time employees while 38% are noted as part-time employees, while 12% of the respondents did not report this information.
· Overall, the majority of workers have been employed in the health centers for less than 5 years. Community Health representatives have the highest percentage of staff members who have spent between 11 – 20 years in service, while Elders have been identified as spending more than 21 years in the health centers.
· Overall, the majority of all workers earn between $16 and $20 per hour in salaries / wages. The wage / salary ranges for some specific positions were extremely broad.
On October 6th the First Nations Health Council will present the findings from these scans, tune in to receive the most accurate and up to date picture of our workforce.