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Province provides funds to help hire more health care workers in the North

Health Minister Adrian Dix
Health Minister Adrian Dix

Victoria is providing up to $6.38 million for programs and incentives to encourage more health workers to discover the advantages of working and living in the North.

“Every person living in the North deserves to have the best possible health care close to home, when and where they need it,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, in a news release. “We are helping more people choose the North by providing support for the unique challenges northern health workers face every day. That includes assistance with travel, housing and child care, plus real-time access to emergency medicine physicians 24/7.”

The health-care worker rural retention program for targeted communities and occupations is designed to offer financial incentives and support for priority health-care workers and will be funded by government at approximately $3 million.

Further projects are underway through partnerships between Northern Health and the province:

* $821,000 to continue the Travel Resource Program (TRP), which supports more than 40 registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN).

* Offering a flexible community fund of $115,000 that supports patient care delivery to support interdisciplinary teams and the health authority to work together and create a unique approach to address rural obstetrics needs and support 24/7 care for their communities, and helps stabilize care in the northwest (Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace).

* $225,000 in funding to develop a child care program to support expanded net new child care spots and expanded hours of operation to meet the needs of health-care workers who are often working 12-hour shifts. Anticipated regions for this include: Kitimat, Hazelton, Prince Rupert, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John

* $750,000 to develop a housing program in communities where suitable market housing is barrier to permanent staffing and short-term deployments. Regions include Robson Valley, Kitimat, Hazelton, Prince Rupert, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John.

* Launching the Rural Urgent Doctor in-aid (RUDi) 24/7 virtual support pathway for doctors and other health-care professionals in rural communities, with $825,000 in government funding.

* $645,000 is geared toward creating clinical management supports for Prince Rupert and the northeast that will build capacity to support new graduates, provides more resources for management competency development and improves management support systems.

“These investments will contribute significantly to addressing the recruitment and retention challenges that northern B.C. and so many jurisdictions are experiencing,” said Colleen Nyce, board chair, Northern Health. “People are the foundation for the provision of quality care, and it’s important we invest not only in recruiting staff, but in ensuring staff and physicians have the supports they need.”

It’s anticipated that many of these projects can get started immediately, while others require strategic planning and contractors to work on the best possible outcomes. It is expected that these actions will cost more than $6 million in government funding.

The Ministry of Health and Northern Health are working in partnership to identify the ongoing and growing health-care needs of northern communities, and implement plans at both the regional and community levels to meet these demands.

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