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The ARNBC's predecessor, the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia, was established in 1935. That organization focused on regulation of registered nurses, but also worked to broadly influence the healthcare system. In fact, the RNABC played a key role in positioning the primary healthcare agenda in the province using its constitution to support the ideal of upholding "the integrity of the nursing profession and support its contributions to the health and welfare of the people of British Columbia."
In 2005, registered nurses were recognized under the BC Health Professions Act (HPA). The RNABC made an effort to have the government make amendments to the HPA that would provide for the College to continue its involvement in health and social policy issues, however, government took the stance that the primary role of all colleges under the HPA would be regulation, and advocacy for health and social policy issues would not be included in the mandate.
This legislative change implemented a number of important changes to the profession, including the August 2005 transition of the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia to its sole role of professional regulator under a new title The College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. Under the HPA, the College is required to act as regulator (including in matters of professional standards, competencies and discipline), and is no longer allowed to serve in an advocacy capacity in areas of health and social policy. CRNBC's primary duty under the HPA is to serve and protect the public. The College itself recognized the inherent ‘conflict of interest' when considering its new role compared to its old role, and began to question the viability of being the B.C. representative on the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), because the B.C. Representative from the College was not able to participate in advocacy discussion at the Board table. This resulted in the loss of the nursing's voice on health and social policy issues in B.C. and the loss of B.C.'s voice on these issues at the national level through CNA.
On April 10, 2010, following extensive consultation, a policy and legal review, and extensive discussion, the CRNBC Board decided to "initiate a measured and managed withdrawal" of CRNBC's jurisdictional membership in the Canadian Nurses Association. At the same time, the CRNBC has supported the development of a new organization that could again bring the voice of the profession of registered nursing on public policy issues to the forefront. The CRNBC Board provided one-time funding to the RN Network to help establish this organization, which has now evolved into the ARNBC.
The ARNBC was launched in May 2010 and incorporated under the BC Society Act in July 2010. Click here to read more about the history of the nursing advocacy role in B.C.