B.C. town offers $5,000 reward for info leading to 'capture' of doctor

A small community in B.C.'s interior is taking drastic measures in order to find a doctor who will serve its residents.

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The North Shuswap Healthcare Society in Scotch Creek, B.C., has created Wild West-style wanted posters promising a $5,000 reward to anyone who can find a doctor willing to settle in the community for at least three years.

"It is our community's effort to stand out among the many competing to attract family physicians to communities, just like this, all over the province," Jay Simpson, of the North Shuswap Healthcare Society, told CTV Vancouver.

Since 2014, the community's residents have had to travel elsewhere to find a doctor.

"It is tough if you have to drive a distance, and even finding a doctor that'll take you on," said one resident.

The closest many people in the community get to seeing a doctor is when a video call with a doctor is set up once a week in the North Shuswap Healthcare Society.

In 2014, 14.9 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older did not have a regular doctor, according to Statistics Canada. That percentage is about on par with what the government agency found in B.C.

The problem is likely worse in rural communities like Scotch Creek, which is about an hour drive east of Kamloops, B.C., on the shores of Shuswap Lake.

"It is a problem we've been dealing with since the '90s," said Terry Lake, B.C.'s minister of health.

"I mean, you can go back and find movies made about this. It has always been a challenge for smaller communities to have doctors."

For almost two years the North Shuswap Healthcare Society has been advertising for a doctor, but hasn't had any results.

"We're one of 100 communities that are looking for a doctor, we have some special attractions here, but everybody is in the same boat," said Simpson.

But it is hoping that the reward, and the corresponding wanted posters, will make a difference.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Kent Molgat


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