B.C. government rejects call for competitive wage for sonographers

"We know that patients are waiting months for necessary diagnostic testing, and as long as they don’t get a diagnosis that leads to treatment, their physical condition will continue to deteriorate. It is a short-sighted approach to health care." — Val Avery. HSABC President

Vancouver (17 Feb. 2017) — The B.C. government has rejected a call for immediate action to address the critical shortage of sonographers by providing them with a competitive wage.

More sonographers are needed now

Instead of a wage adjustment and other financial incentives recommended in a report by the joint Recruitment and Retention Committee, the only recommendation the government authorized is an increase in the number of sonographers to be trained in B.C. This committee is comprised of that includes representatives from the employer, Health Employers Association of B.C., and the union bargaining association, Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA).

The Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE) said that "while this increase is welcome, it will not produce additional new sonographer graduates until at least February 2018, so will not assist with the current crisis.  And failure to provide any financial incentives will not assist health authorities to recruit and retain sonographers, including these additional new grads."

Unions and employers agree: lower wages in public sector an obstacle to recruiting sonographers

Public sector sonographers in B.C. earn significantly less than those working in private clinics or in the public sector in most other provinces. Both union and employer representatives on the Recruitment and Retention Committee agreed in making their recommendations to government that the “Sonographers’ recruitment and retention issue is primarily a wage issue” and that “a labour market adjustment is necessary and appropriate for Sonographers”.  The B.C. government rejected this joint finding despite the reality: thousands of B.C. patients are waiting for ultrasound procedures because hospitals are unable to hire enough sonographers.

“The government’s response in the face of a growing crisis in patient care is extremely disappointing. It’s more than disappointing. It’s alarming. We know that patients are waiting months for necessary diagnostic testing, and as long as they don’t get a diagnosis that leads to treatment, their physical condition will continue to deteriorate. It is a short-sighted approach to health care,” said Val Avery. HSABC President. Health Sciences Association of B.C. represents 700 ultrasound technologists working in B.C.’s hospitals.

Joint committee recommended to government solutions to recruitment and retention crisis

The joint committee submitted a 105-page paper detailing the crisis caused by shortages of sonographers in the health care system and recommended a number of strategies to recruit and retain sonographers in BC hospitals, including

 A market adjustment for sonographers

  •  Other financial incentives to help recruit sonographers, such as signing bonuses
  •   A doubling of training spaces in the BCIT Diagnostic Medical Sonography Diploma program
  •   The introduction of a fast-track program for cardiac and general sonography

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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