The province is committing over a billion dollars to its fall pandemic preparedness plan. 

Premier John Horgan, health minister Adrian Dix, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, shared details today, with the cold and flu season just around the corner.

Horgan said to prepare for the fall and winter, the province is investing $1.6 billion into B.C.’s health care system.

“This will mean 7,000 jobs for health care support workers in long-term care and assisted living facilities, a significant expansion of the province’s flu immunization plan, as well as the launch of a new program, the Hospital at Home Program.”

The province is putting $44.1 million into the Health Career Access Program, which it says will “provide a path” for roughly 3,000 applicants who may not previously have had health-care experience to receive on-the-job training. 

New hires will start in a health-care support worker position and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a health-care assistant.

“These are opportunities for 7,000 good-paying jobs, that focus on our common goal: to keep people healthy, to keep them well through the pandemic,” Horgan said.

As well, the province has acquired 450,000 additional doses of flu vaccine to bring B.C.’s total to two million, and 45,000 high dose flu vaccines will be made available for people in assisted living and long-term care facilities. Fluzone-High Dose is a higher dose vaccine designed specifically to protect people over 65 from influenza. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever to protect yourself and your family from influenza,” Henry said. 

“By getting immunized against influenza, you’re protecting yourself and those who are vulnerable to complications from the flu. Staying healthy also helps to reduce strain on our health-care system as we deal with COVID-19. Getting the flu shot is safe and effective, and this year more than ever, I ask everyone who can to get a flu shot.”

The province is also spending $42.3 million to, it says, “ease the pressures off B.C. hospitals and reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission in the hospitals.”

Meanwhile, Hospital at Home allows patients who meet the criteria to be offered 24/7 care at home rather than being admitted to hospital. 

Through in-person and virtual visits, patients will receive care from nurses and doctors experienced in hospital medicine and acute care. 

It will launch through the Victoria General Hospital, then through additional hospitals over the coming months.