Vancouver Island is desperate for more family doctors, but the region’s housing crisis is creating a roadblock for multiple family physicians hoping to work there.
“I’ve grown up here. I want to give back to the community, but if I’m pushed out of the community where does that leave me for setting up practices?” said Alexander Kilpatrick, a family physician resident.
With his landlord moving back into the home they now rent, Kilpatrick and his soon-to-be family of five have to find a place to rent within the next two months.
The problem is he’s finding that the rental housing market in the capital region is now out of reach.
“If we’re struggling to find places to live, and concerned about this, we’re just a tip of the iceberg, there are so many others in the community that are going through the same struggle we are,” said Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick’s wife Brioney is a teacher in Victoria, both arguably stable, middle-income salaries, but they’re still no match to the high cost of living.
“We might not even be able to afford a place for our family in the near future,” said Kilpatrick.
They’re not alone, the expensive, restricted rental supply is not only forcing much-needed physicians to flee, but preventing them from coming in the first place.
“I’m just having no luck,” said Dr. Jen Jeans, a family doctor in the Okanagan, looking to move to Victoria. “Things are just gobbled up so so quickly, if you don’t respond right away you can’t get anything.”
As the housing crisis collides with a doctor shortage, Victoria’s mayor says, everyone, faces a responsibility to change.
“Every level of government needs to play its part in addressing the shortage of doctors that we’re all facing right now. And municipal governments are no exception,” said Lisa Helps, Victoria’s mayor.
Next Thursday, Victoria city council is bringing forward ‘The Missing Middle Housing Plan’, which could rezone the entire city to allow more multiplexes and townhomes to be built.
“It’s a big move but that will unleash housing for doctors and nurses and other workers who are never going to afford, or can’t even find a single-family home right now,” said Helps.
For now, family physicians like Kilpatrick and Jeans are stuck in the middle of missing housing, in a Capital Region that desperately needs their care.