If you're looking for a provincial government which has any respect for nurses, don't look at BC.
Their answer to the over 1000 position nursing shortage? Close hospitals (yes, hospitals - according to the health minister, as long as a hospital is within a 1 hour ambulance drive away, a community does not need a hospital - they got this advice from some US "advisors", sound familiar?), thereby reducing the number of vacancies.
They've managed to "reduce the vacancies" by 700 displacements. The one that I personally love is to have some ERs open only 8/24 or staff the evening/night shift ER with 1 RN, with a doc on-call. Hospitals in the Interior have had their ORs, palliative care, etc permanently closed as well.
WE HAVE MANDITORY OVERTIME.
WE CAN BE SENT TO WORK, THREE TIMES A YEAR, FOR A PERIOD OF UP TO 30 DAYS, ANYWHERE IN THE PROVINCE. The nurse must pay all expenses, and then can fill a "reimbursement" form when he/she returns home.
WE CAN BE SENT TO WORK, FOR A PERIOD OF UP TO 7 DAYS, ANYWHERE WITHIN A 50 KM RANGE OF OUR 'HOME' HOSPITAL.
Suggest that you check out www.bcnu.org,
look at their displacements listing, etc.
If you type in www.bcnu.org
on a search engine, you'll find 2 listings, 1 for the site itself, the other for "job vacancies". Click on to "health match BC" for a listing of vacancies. If you're thinking of working in Vancouver, check out the website for "Vancouver General Hospital". St Paul's is another large hospital in the city. UBC hospital (affiliated with the University of British Columbia) is being downsized from acute care (they've had their ORs closed), so don't bother with that.
I also am a U.S. citizen, have lived and worked here since 1978. Although I came up when my (ex) husband was transferred here, I always said that I would never go back until the Equal Rights Amendment was passed. You're probably not old enough to remember the ERA, it was defeated because "men and women would have to share toilets" (Phyllis Schafley, REAL WOMEN)
Politically, this provincial government is comparable to the Bush administration, big business interests run this province. Think Scrooge.
"Are there no prisons". Weak, poor, downtrodden? "Better to die and decrease the surplus population".
Although nurses in this province are members of the BCNU, and although we turned down the employers contract offer by 97%, the provincial government legislated it in in August 2001, and then in January 2002, it passed Bill 28, in secret, in the wee small hours of the morning, stating that the contract was "too inflexible". As premier Gordon Campbell stated on the news "it's about time nurses found out who was the employer and who was the employee". Respect, I think not.
The highest pay level is for 9 years experience. I'm at that level and I get paid $C32.42/hour. At a currency value of the Canadian $ at $.65, this works out to just a little over $US21/hour. This does not include my exciting "bonus" for my masters. If you're thinking "specialty differential", don't. Evening shift (which I work)differential is $.70 or, in US$, $0.48.
We are supposed to get a $C.41/hour raise April 1st but Colin Hansen, health minister, has already said that we will only get our raise "if the economy improves".
This provincial government is also a strong proponent of "privatization". Any nursing unit which does not deal strictly with "in-house" patients (renal unit, operating room, ambulatory day care, surgical day care, "holding units" in the emergency room, home care, oncology/diabetic/eating disorders, etc, clinics) can be privatized. If you think that it's not being done, you're wrong.
My neighbor works in the renal dialysis unit at the Royal Columbian Hospital (New Westminster). She was telling me that the unit is being privatized. By next spring, all the renal techs will be working for a private company, with a pay drop to $C10/hour. By next fall, the RNs will be privatized. All membership in the union will cease (part of bill 28, no "secession rights"), so pensions, benefits, etc, will be gone. RCH was, apparently, expecting the RNs to roll over, play dead, and be grateful to have a job. Nola reports that, of the 36 "lines", 18 RNs have now left for the States, another 6 are going in the spring, and the rest are applying for other positions in the hospital.
Private companies do not provide 'specialty" nurses. By privatizing these units, hospitals figure that the nurses will stay in their jobs but will work for these companies. Since the biggest cost of an RN (or any hospital worker) is not their salary but their benefits, the hospital gets out of paying both. And private nursing companies don't pay union wages or benefits.
The provincial government has also inked a deal to have all hospital laundry trucked daily to Calgary, Alberta, and hospital food is now (starting NYD) being sent from Toronto. Thus, hospital laundry and dietary workers have been pink-slipped.
Now some provincial government idiot has declared that all nurses must work a 7.2 hour shift, rather than any 'extended hours" shifts. First they screw around with their imposed contract, then they go for our rotations.
My best advice, live here and work "casual" at a BC hospital, but work "across the line" in Bellingham.
"Casual" is how you'll get hired anyway. You have to be "on permanent staff" to apply for a non-casual position. With some exceptions, new graduates can't get anything other than casual.
I'm retiring in 3 years, 8 months, and as of today, 27 days. Even then, I will probably need to get another job. The provincial govenment has slashed our retirement benefits ("we're not in the business of paying government employee retirees' benefits" - Gary Collins, finance minister).
Sorry that this is so long, but boy did I ever get a lot off my chest. LOL