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NS to add more modular housing for health-care workers, skilled tradespeople

The Nova Scotia government is spending $12 million on “more affordable transitional housing” to support the recruitment and retention of health-care workers and skilled tradespeople to the province.

The new funding follows a previously announced $8 million investment in January for modular housing for health-care workers.

“We simply can’t afford to have that work impacted by a lack of available housing,” said Colton LeBlanc, acting minister of municipal affairs and housing, said in a news release.

“This added investment will help quickly get more housing into communities where supply is limited.”

While specific locations for housing have yet to be announced, the following areas have been identified as places in need of more housing for health-care workers and skilled tradespeople where provincially owned land is also available:

  • Cumberland.
  • Antigonish.
  • Guysborough.
  • Inverness.
  • South Shore.
  • Colchester.

The province said the first units are expected to be delivered this summer.

The announcement is welcome news to Major David Kogon of Amherst. While he thinks it’s unlikely any of the housing units will be in his town, there is a hospital — the Cumberland Regional Health Care Center — just on its outskirts that’s in need of workers.

“We have lost some health-care workers and some skilled workers, meaning new people are willing to come and work here, but couldn’t come or wouldn’t come because they couldn’t find anywhere to live,” Kogon told CBC in an interview on Wednesday.

“So any increase in local housing to try and promote the availability of housing for people of this type is something we definitely need.”

In Truro, Major Bill Mills said there was a need for more housing. Mills said the town’s housing vacancy rate is about 0.7 per cent.

“We had some doctors who were doing their residency here and there was a scramble to find a place for them to go and we did have an apartment that was ready to house them for three months, six months whatever was required until they could find a place, so that’s worked out fairly well,” Mills said.

Mills said there were a lot of applications for new buildings in the town, but “we have a problem getting them built.”

“We’ve approved a couple of development agreements just in the past month and fortunately, one will begin construction right away and another, a long-standing application on the Esplanade that’s going to start putting in their foundations next week. It’s moving, but it’s moving too slow.”

In Bridgewater, Major David Mitchell said a lack of housing on the South Shore was an issue.

“We’re always trying to recruit doctors, nurses, other health practitioners and if they can’t find adequate housing soon, then they can’t come,” Mitchell said. “[If] we can get housing up and running, even if it’s just temporary … it buys us some time.”