New housing opening in northern B.C. for Indigenous patients who have to travel for medical appointments

For Indigenous people living in remote communities in northern British Columbia, it is about to get easier to visit urban centres for medical appointments,

The province and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) have partnered to provide temporary housing near medical facilities in Prince George and Fort St. John, making it more affordable for FNHA clients who travel there to see doctors or give birth.

BC Housing will set aside housing units it already has in stock when it knows a travelling patient is in need and FNHA will foot the bill.

"The purpose of this agreement is to make it easier, more affordable for First Nation Health Authority clients to attend their medical appointments, especially if they have long-term medical stays," said Housing Minister Selina Robinson in an interview Tuesday on Daybreak North

In the coming months, partners will identify the exact locations and numbers of units that will be reserved for FNHA's use. Patients who stay in the units will also have access to FNHA's Medical Transportation Program, which shuttles people to and from their communities.

"We are all looking forward to supporting families to have healthy and supportive stays when travelling far from home to access health care," said Richard Jock, interim CEO of FNHA in a statement.

New rental units too

Robinson was in Prince George to make two housing announcements that will benefit Indigenous people in the area.

The province has also partnered with the Aboriginal Housing Society of Prince George to purchase a six-unit apartment complex. The society will rent the units to Indigenous people at prices below market value.

According to Robinson, the two one-bedroom units will rent at about $660 a month and the two four-bedroom units will rent for around $760. 

 The federal and provincial governments are providing joint funding of approximately $840,000 to finance the purchase and renovation of the building, located at 2541 Oak St.

The society has assumed ownership and operations of the residence. The current tenants of the building will not be affected by the acquisition.