Work in the health care sector

COVID-19 has increased the need for health care assistants in long-term care and assisted living settings across the province. The Health Career Access Program provides a path for applicants with no health care experience to get hired and receive paid employer sponsored health care assistant training as part of their employment.  

Last updated: January 11, 2023

On this page:

Why work in health care

B.C.’s health care system provides critical services that we all use. Employment is stable and available in communities across the province.

Employers offer reliable employment with competitive salaries and benefits. Benefits may include a pension plan and medical, dental and extended health care coverage.

Passionate and caring health care workers make a difference in their communities every day. The sector is committed to creating working environments that support and value diverse skills and lived experiences.

It is important that the workforce reflects the people they support. The Health Career Access Program is committed to inclusive hiring practices, providing equal opportunity for participation to underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities and LGBTQIA2S+ applicants.

How to get your career started

COVID-19 has increased the need for health care assistants in long-term care, home support and assisted living services.

Normally, to become a health care assistant, you must complete six to eight months of post-secondary education at your own expense before you can apply for a position.

Through the Health Career Access Program, the Province will pay for your post-secondary education.

New hires in the program start in a health care support worker position and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a health care assistant. 

Role descriptions

All successful program applicants must start as a health care support worker before advancing to a health care assistant position.

Health care support worker

Health care support workers are supervised by registered nurses or other regulated health care professionals. They provide a variety of critical non-clinical, non-direct care supports to patients and residents.

Typical duties include:

  • Participating as an integral member of a health care delivery team
  • Establishing a caring relationship with clients, residents and families
  • Providing support and assistance with mealtime activities
  • Providing support and assistance in carrying out activities
  • Performing housekeeping duties
  • Greeting and directing visitors
  • Restocking supplies
  • Completing and maintaining relevant records

Health care support workers earn $22.32 an hour.

Health care assistant

Health care assistants are members of the health care team who provide personal care in a variety of health care settings including acute care hospitals, assisted living facilities, group homes, residential care and community care.

They are supervised by registered nurses or other regulated health care professionals and follow established care plans to provide personal care such as bathing, grooming, dressing, assisting with meals and oral hygiene.

Other duties include:

  • Helping in the delivery of nursing care, including taking temperature, pulse and respiration readings
  • Documenting information on a patient’s chart
  • Responding to call bells/alarms in hospital settings
  • Observing and monitoring patient progress, symptoms and behavioural changes and reporting significant observations
  • Utilizing mechanical aides (specialty beds, lifts, wheelchairs and stretchers) to transport patients
  • Providing assistance with positioning, lifting and/or transferring patients using established lifting/safety techniques
  • Maintaining a clean and safe environment for patients and staff

On average, health care assistants earn an annual provincial salary of $45,883.

Join the Health Career Access Program

The Health Career Access Program happens in three stages. 

Stage 1: Start as a health care support worker

Submit your expression of interest.

Following your expression of interest, your name and contact information will be shared with employers recruiting for health care support worker positions in your preferred region or community. 

If you receive and accept an offer of employment under the program, work and training will begin.

Please note that you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to participate at this time.

Required qualifications 

By order of the Provincial Health Officer, all health care staff who work in B.C. must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. You are fully vaccinated 14 days after your second dose of vaccine.

Applicants to HCAP should be prepared to provide proof of vaccination to employers during the application process.


If English is not your first language, English Language Learning courses are available.


  • Ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Ability to establish and maintain relationships with clients, residents and coworkers
  • Ability to work independently and in cooperation with others
  • Physical ability to carry out the duties of the position
  • Ability to operate related equipment

Stage 2: Complete basic training and onboarding

All newly hired health care support workers must complete a provincially standardized training and onboarding program. This is provided by your employer.

You will be paid for your time and any course fees will be reimbursed. 

Stage 3: Become a health care assistant

After you complete basic training, you enter a structured, mandatory health care assistant education program that you complete while you are working.

  • Employees who do not undertake the health care assistant training are not eligible to work as health care support workers and have their salary paid by the province
  • The program is delivered as a partnership between your employer and an established post-secondary institution
  • It will take about a year complete and is provided to you at no cost

Health care support workers will be paid $837 a week while attending full-time class or participating in clinical training as part of the education program.

On completion of the program, you earn a recognized post-secondary credential and are eligible to register as a health care assistant. Once registered as a health care assistant, participants will complete a 12-month return of service.

Health care assistants can work across B.C. in long-term care and assisted living facilities, provide community home support and contribute to care that is delivered in acute care hospital settings.

Submit your expression of interest

Be prepared to provide:

  • First and last name
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Postal code
  • Preferred health region (where you want to work)

Submit your expression of interestThe form takes less than 5 minutes to complete. 

Recruitment process

Once you have submitted an expression of interest, you are entered into a pool of applicants that is viewable by employers participating in the program. These employers may then engage applicants directly to discuss opportunities, request work histories and other documents, schedule interviews, and hire successful applicants. Please note, depending on geographical need, not all applicants may be contacted.

It is important to know that to work in the long-term care and assisted living sector, participants will need to undergo a Vulnerable Sector Criminal Record Check as part of the hiring process.

You can use your BC Services Card to log in to view and manage your profile information. Visit the Health Career Access Program portal and click the 'login' button to get started. Please make sure that you provide contact information where you can be easily reached so you do not miss any opportunities.