FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- The Government of B.C. is working to get the healthcare services northern B.C. needs.

$6.38 million is being used for programs and staff to encourage healthcare workers to work 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.

“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.” Said Dix.

The comprehensive healthcare worker rural retention program for targeted communities and occupations was created to offer workers incentives to live and work in the North.

Northern Health is working with the province to create further projects.

$225,000 is going towards developing a child care program. This would be to support the needs of healthcare workers who often work 12-hour shifts. Anticipated regions for this include Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Kitimat, Hazelton, Prince Rupert and Chetwynd.

$750,000 is going towards developing housing programs. Where housing is difficult for permanent staff and short-term deployments. Regions include Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Robson Valley, Kitimat, Hazelton and Prince Rupert.

$821,000 is going towards continuing the Travel Resource Program. The program supports registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.

$115,000 is going towards a community fund. This will be used to create a new approach to address 24/7 care and support in the communities.

$825,000 is going towards launching the Rural Urgent Doctor in-aid (RUDi) 24/7. This is virtual support for healthcare professionals.

$645,000 is going towards clinical management support for Prince Rupert and the northeast. This will create space to take in and support new graduates going into healthcare. It will also provide more resources for management and improve 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.” Said Nyce.

Some of these projects can start immediately. However, some require strategic planning.

The Ministry of Health and Northern Health are working together to identify the ongoing healthcare needs of northern communities.

They plan to start meeting these demands at the regional and community levels.