Action taken to strengthen north Island health care

After the Province announced a $30 million investment in health-care services in North Vancouver Island on January 27, Island Health and its partners have made significant progress in implementing the actions designed to improve and stabilize health-care services for the region.

“North Vancouver Island residents are quickly benefitting from Island Health’s improvements, especially by attracting and recruiting health-care professionals from across the province, country and beyond. Their progress is commendable and makes health care more accessible to Island residents closer to home,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

Island Health has hired new staff to support the health system in the north Island. In addition, Island Health anticipates delivering over $280,000 in quarterly retention bonuses to more than 200 current employees in the first quarter of the program, with eligible staff already receiving enhanced travel compensation.

“I want to thank all of the people who are actively working to bring health care service improvements to the residents of North Island. The $30 million investment will help to bring more stability and improved health care for the communities,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island.

With the purchasing of a new CT scanner well under way, local residents will benefit from drastically reduced travel times to access the health services they need.

“Island Health is committed to sharing updates as we move forward on this priority work,” said James Hanson, Island Health Vice-President, Central/North Island clinical operations. “We have established a task force that includes leaders from multiple teams whose focus is to ensure our patients and care providers realize the benefits of these investments as quickly as possible. I’m proud of what the team has accomplished already.” 

Island Health has added two additional long-term care beds at Eagle Ridge Manor and increased services and residential capacity in the Port Hardy community by 10% to better support seniors requiring long-term care.

“Knowing that government heard our requests for funding and listened to the recommendations that came from a health summit, facilitated by the Rural Coordination Center of BC in November 2022, about strengthening services in the North Vancouver Island area is so meaningful,” said Port Hardy Mayor Pat Corbett-Labatt. “For example, the expansion of the Salvation Army sobering, assessment and sheltering program is an amazing win for vulnerable people in our community and will help reduce visits to the hospital’s emergency department.” 

Supported by a robust national recruitment campaign (#northvancouverislandcareers), Island Health is actively recruiting and targeting a broad range of potential new hires in North Vancouver Island, as well as a variety of professionals across Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and the world. Since launching, over 1,000 prospective candidates have been engaged, including many nurses that have shown interest in one or more opportunities within Island Health. Eighteen candidates have accepted job offers in the North Vancouver Island region, including two nurses who have chosen to relocate from outside the North Vancouver Island region and will be starting work in the coming weeks.

Action has been taken to expand sobering, assessment and sheltering services currently offered by the Salvation Army, an Island Health contracted services provider. The Salvation Army operates a 6-space sheltering, sobering and assessment program in Port Hardy with support from Island Health’s mental health and substance use team, BC Housing, the District of Port Hardy and the Mt. Waddington Regional District. Thanks to the government’s investment, work has commenced to add six new sobering spaces and expand services to be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

“Historically, we have offered sheltering services from late afternoon to early morning, so people who are using these services have to find somewhere to go during the day and on weekends when the centre is closed,” said Michael Winter, Community Ministries Supervisor, Salvation Army Centre of Hope. “Expanding these vital services to be available around the clock for North Vancouver Island residents will offer more stability and long-term health and care for the individuals and families we serve.” 

Learn more about the Port Hardy Salvation Army Centre of Hope and the value of these services in the video found here.

“I’m very excited and grateful to the Minister of Health for recognizing the significance of health-care services in North Vancouver Island,” said Port McNeill Mayor James Furney. “Everyone has a seat at this table, and our partnerships will play an essential role as we work together to ensure that these investments benefit all residents and Island Health staff working in this region.” 

Quick Facts: 

  • Three Registered Nurses/Registered Psychiatric Nurses hired (currently engaged and working 12 qualified candidates through recruitment and selection process, including five in the interview stage).
  • One Licensed Practical Nurse hired and two in the interview stage.
  • One community professional hired into home care and public health (Five qualified candidates in the interview and offer stages).
  • Seven support staff hired (includes ambassadors, nursing assistants and health care support workers).
  • One Protection Services Officer hired (currently engaged and working four candidates through recruitment and selection process including one in the offer stage).
  • Two full time and two casual Inter-facility Porters for dedicated shuttle service hired (offers extended for two additional positions). 

For more information, visit