Northern Health filling jobs

Trent Ernst


Vacancy rates for difficult-to-fill positions in the north are sitting at 47 percent as of the end of 2013.

That might sound high, but when compared to 74 percent the year before, that’s a big improvement.

Betty Morris is the Chief Operating for Northern Health in the Northeast. She says that there are many factors as to why a position might be hard to fill. “Typically if a job has been posted for more than three months, it is called a difficult to fill position,” she says.

With that in mind, Northern Health says they will frequently have to take and re-work the job definition to make it more attractive to potential candidates. “We typically will make some adjustments,” she says. “Let’s say that you have a staff member and they’re working full time. Then they say it would be better part time, so we change that position to better suit them. Then they leave, and the job won’t be filled because all the candidates are looking for full time work.

This was recently done in Tumbler Ridge for some difficult-to-fill nursing positions. Nurse Jessica Hamilton was working part time in mental health, but took on some part time hours in the emergency room, alleviating some of the pressure there. A second nurse, in the person of Sheng Hsiung Wang (Lindsey) was also hired.

Tumbler Ridge also has a third physician, with Doctor Pillay having recently committed to working here for three years.

“In the background we’ve been working very hard to get these positions filled,” says Morris. “Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, emergency rooom nurses and other specialized nursing positions have historically been the hardest to fill. Any time one of those people leaves, it’s hard.”

Another factor making it difficult to find employees is where it is located. “The more remote, the harder it is to fill. We’ve been looking for a physiotherapist up in Fort Nelson for years, but we just filled it. Often times it’s by happenstance. An RCMP officer is married to a nurse, and she’s looking to do work in the community she’s in.”

The hardest positions to fill are the casual positions in remote towns. “Ideally, you want to have some staff who are casual who can fill in when an employee is away on holidays or at a training course. This is very difficult to fill in a small, remote community because they don’t know how much work they’ll be getting. So a casual position in Tumbler Ridge? That’s going to be hard to fill. It’s really difficult to get someone who will come and do that.”

There are currently 90 positions in the North that are open, 41 of those in Northeast BC. Of those positions, the segment with the largest number of vacancies is nursing, with 13 positions open as of January 15, or just under one third of the total vacancies.

Across the north, Northern Health had 7430 employees, including casual and part time workers.

According to the Northern Health Recruitment site, there are two positions vacant in Tumbler Ridge: one casual and one part-time/relief.