Work on Vernon's Community Futures North Okanagan workforce housing program to start soon

Housing for doctors

Community Futures North Okanagan is going full speed ahead with a housing project that will benefit the entire community.

On its social media page, the CFNO announced construction will soon begin on the workforce housing program that is aimed at keeping doctors in the region.

“This location will serve as the home for resident doctors participating in the residency program associated with Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Interior Health and UBCO,” the Facebook post said. “Can't wait to welcome our new doctors in June 2024.”

According to the CFNO, more than 20,000 people in the North Okanagan don’t have a family doctor.

The North Okanagan medical residency program, which will be launching in 2024 and is supported by the new workforce housing development, hopes to change that.

“This new economic development project will support a critically challenged sector of our economy that affects thousands of residents,” says Leigha Horsfield, executive director, Community Futures. “Access to medical care and childcare are significant factors skilled workers take into account when deciding to reside in a community.”

With an ongoing physician shortage, family practices and walk-in clinics have growing waitlists that put additional pressure on emergency departments and other healthcare services.

“The residency program is a great thing for our community. Other sites across the province continue to see residency programs as one of the strongest recruitment tools to get family doctors trained and practicing in their region,” says Dr. Travis Allen, site director of the family residency program. “Creating this pool of resources makes family medicine more sustainable for our community and directly benefits the patients.”

Horsfield says the project hopes to retain family doctors through outreach and incentives.

“Given the extreme housing shortage, the goal of this project is to create housing that supports the health sector and provides a ready-made landing place for medical residents,” says Horsfield.

AIM Development purchased the single-family home on 25th Street and subdivided the property into three lots for the new housing project, which is expected to be complete in 2024.

Community Futures is looking for additional partners and sponsors. Whether it’s by donating services or materials, organizations and community groups that are able to support the workforce housing project are encouraged to contact Community Futures at 250-545-2215.

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