Gov’t rejects joint call by unions and employers for competitive wage for sonographers

Instead of a wage adjustment and other financial incentives recommended in a report by the joint Recruitment and Retention Committee, which includes representatives from the employer, HEABC, and the union bargaining association, HSPBA, the only recommendation government authorized is an increase in the number of sonographers to be trained in B.C. While this increase is welcome, it will not produce additional new sonographer grads until at least February 2018, so will not assist with the current crisis. And failure to provide any financial incentives will not assist health authorities to recruit and retain sonographers, including these additional new grads.

Public sector sonographers in B.C. earn significantly less than those working in private clinics or in the public sector in most other provinces. Both union and employer representatives on the Recruitment and Retention Committee agreed in making their recommendations to government that the “Sonographers’ recruitment and retention issue is primarily a wage issue” and that “a labour market adjustment is necessary and appropriate for Sonographers”. Government rejected this joint finding despite the fact that thousands of B.C. patients are waiting for ultrasound procedures because hospitals are unable to hire enough sonographers. In the HSPBA, the Health Sciences Association of BC represents 700 ultrasound technologists working in B.C.’s hospitals.

The joint committee submitted a 105-page paper detailing the crisis caused by shortages of sonographers in the health care system and recommended a number of strategies to recruit and retain sonographers in B.C. hospitals, including:

  • A market adjustment for sonographers
  • Other financial incentives to help recruit sonographers, such as signing bonuses
  • A doubling of training spaces in the BCIT Diagnostic Medical Sonography Diploma program
  • The introduction of a fast-track program for cardiac and general sonography

Details of the joint submission can be found here:

Joint HSPBA/HEABC bulletin

Executive Summary

Full Report