Health authority wants more aboriginal employees
The Vancouver Island Health Authority wants to become the Island's employer of choice for Aboriginal people.
Steve Sxwithul'txw was hired in April 2010 as the health authority's first aboriginal employment advisor and since then he has been hard at work identifying what prevents First Nations people from obtaining or retaining employment with the health authority and how the employer can better support those workers.
Thee position was created partly in response to demographics – VIHA is expecting hundreds of its baby boom generation employees to retire in the coming years and those workers will need to be replaced.
The aboriginal population is also the fastest-growing in Canada, Sxwithul'txw said, and the health authority is also seeking a more representative workforce.
While there are a lot of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples living on the Island, the health authority's employment roster does not reflect this – Sxwithul'txw can count on one hand the number of aboriginal doctors he knows of on the Island.
He is trying to find out how many aboriginal employees the health authority has, as this information is not routinely collected.
Sxwithul'txw is also creating a recruitment and retention advisory committee, which will include VIHA employees and representatives from outside agencies, to advise him about barriers to employment and retention of employees and solutions to these barriers.
He's been working with post-secondary institutions on the Island, including Vancouver Island University, and hopes to maintain communication and collaboration so that when the health authority has a need for certain employees, the institutions might be able to open more training spots for these positions.
"We want to be the employer of choice for the aboriginal people of Vancouver Island," said Sxwithul'txw.