Extraordinary Measures To Support Staffing

The following has been sent to all Managers/Leaders on behalf of Elin Bjarnason, VP Clinical Operations South, and Krista Allan, VP Knowledge, Practice and Chief Nurse Executive

December 31, 2021


As we enter into another holiday weekend, we first want to thank you for your incredible contributions this year. Through dual public health emergencies, multiple extraordinary weather events, and an ongoing need to provide excellent health and care to the people we serve, you have consistently risen to the immense challenge.

This time of year always presents a staffing challenge, and with the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and the extreme weather over the holidays, we are facing a dire situation. Sites across Island Health are struggling to find enough people to fill shifts to ensure we can continue to provide safe care for our patients.

We know how important it is to take a rest, to take time to breathe, and to spend time with friends and family, especially after the relentless challenges of the last two years. Balancing that need against the need to care for our patients, clients and their families is challenging.

At this time, we are asking any clinical staff – including but not limited to RNs, LPNs and HCAs - who are able to consider voluntarily returning from scheduled leaves over the next few weeks to help us fill the gaps during this most difficult time. We are exploring all voluntary staffing options with the hope of avoiding mandated options, which we have not yet had to take during the pandemic. We are doing all we can to avoid mandatory call-backs, but in order to maintain safety for patients and staff, this measure may become necessary.

Every single day our focus is on staffing and safety for our patients, but with Omicron we are now being hit harder than ever with illness in the community and in staff.  It is so hard to ask more from you when you have given everything for your patients, but we are now facing even more significant challenges in staffing. If you are at all willing to help by returning early or cancelling scheduled leave, please contact your leader immediately and arrange to be put on the schedule. You will be compensated in accordance with your applicable Collective Agreement.

We are grateful for all that you doing each and every day. Our patients and our communities see you and the sacrifice you are making to keep them cared for and safe. We are a family and united we will get through this together.  We will one day look back in history to this time as one of the most difficult in our careers. Despite all of this, we have held our heads high, we have been professionals, we have put the needs of our family and community before ourselves and we have done what was needed to be done to protect our community. 

You are role models to your family and community and should be so proud of the difference you are making every day. Thank you. 


The mental and emotional impacts of COVID-19 on our personal and work lives is far-reaching. You are not alone and support is available. Visit this page to find information on how to access resources, programs and services that can help you.