07/28/2012 07:48 EDT | Updated 09/27/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. small towns lure doctors with housing

The mayor of an interior town says rural communities in B.C. are outbidding each other to attract doctors, with some communities shelling out considerable amounts of money to secure comfortable temporary housing for new physicians.

Jason Earle, acting mayor of Princeton, said a doctor shortage forced the closure of the local emergency room four nights a week.

His town decided to try luring physicians by leasing a townhouse to make available to fill-in or temporary doctors, known as locums.

"[It's] a fully-furnished deluxe accommodation for locums to stay at when they come to Princeton," Earle said.

The town of Nakusp recently took a similar approach and bought a $280,000 home in hopes of enticing a doctor to relocate.

Andy Anderson, the mayor of Ashcroft, said his village is also trying to attract a physician and he's worried these kind of housing ventures pit communities against one another in competition for a small pool of available doctors.

"It's going to do that to a degree because, you know, communities like mine just don't have the funds to do that," he said.

Anderson said what really needs to happen is for the B.C. government to open more residency programs for doctors.

He said that would increase the number of physicians available for the many rural communities in need.