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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C.– Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training Anne Kang announced BC’s new five-year health human resources strategy, which includes up to 128 more seats in UBC’s faculty of medicine.

It also includes plans for a medical school at Simon Fraser University.

The plan will consist of 70 actions under four pillars: retain, redesign, recruit, and train, Dix said.

Not only is the expansion of physician training a win for the healthcare system, Kang said, but for students as well.

“The health workforce is crucial to our well-being, and immediate action is needed to meet the needs of British Columbians today and beyond,” Kang said. “Expanding medical school seats is a great win for us, and for students. They have better access to pursue a life-changing and important career to become the health-care heroes that help our families every single day.”

Additional seats will be phased in to the UBC program, with 40 seats added to the undergraduate faculty of medicine and up to 88 seats phased into the residency program, starting in 2023.

Increasing opportunities to train doctors was only part of the several actions announced on Thursday afternoon.

Another portion of the announcement involves expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists in the province. Pharmacists will have an expanded ability to refill prescriptions by October 14th. By Spring 2023, Dix said, pharmacists should be able to issue prescriptions for less acute ailments, as well as contraception.

Another is a series of new regulations that will enable paramedics and first responders to provide a broader range of services to better care for their patients.

“It’s not focused on barriers, it’s based on team-based care.” Dix said

UBC’s dean of medicine Dermot Kelleher and the president of BC Pharmacy Association, Jamie Wigston, also presented details about the plan.

This is a developing story.

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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for EnergeticCity.ca who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.