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Province announces $6.3M for health care worker recruitment and retention in northern B.C.

The provincial government announced $6.38 million in new funding Tuesday for programs and incentives to recruit health care workers to northern B.C.

The provincial government announced $6.38 million in new funding Tuesday for programs and incentives to recruit health care workers to northern B.C.

"Every person living in the North deserves to have the best possible health care close to home, when and where they need it," said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a statement.

"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 province says $3 million will go toward health-care worker rural retention program for targeted communities and occupations is designed to offer financial incentives and support for priority health-care workers.

Other programs and incentives include:

  • $821,000 to continue the Travel Resource Program, which supports more than 40 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses;

  • $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: Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Kitimat, Hazelton, and Prince Rupert;

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

  • $645,000 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;

  • A flexible community fund of $115,000 to supports patient care delivery to support interdisciplinary teams and Northern Health 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 at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace; and

  • Launching the Rural Urgent Doctor in-aid program to offer 24/7 virtual support for doctors and other health-care professionals in rural communities, with $825,000 in funding.

The programs are being funded by the Ministry of Health, Dix said.

Northern Health currently lists 243 open job postings in northeast B.C., including 160 job postings for nurses.

The province also announced Tuesday that ambulance stations in Fort Nelson and Chetwynd will be among 24 stations in B.C. that will be converted from on-call paramedic staffing to 24/7 stations with eight full-time paramedics.

The Hudson's Hope station will be among 26 other ambulance stations moving to a scheduled on-call staffing model are getting more permanent, regular paramedic jobs, starting on Nov. 1, the province said.

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