Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The North -- Day Two Vanderhoof, Burns Lake

When we were in Revelstoke a couple of weeks ago, and during our time in the rest of the Kootenays, we heard from a number of private sector employers about the problems they are having attracting and keeping workers because there is nowhere for the workers to live. We reported on this situation in an earlier post on this blog.

Today in the north we heard about a similar problem, but this time with recruitment and retention of professional workers in the public service and the not for profit sector. At both Nechako Valley Community Services in Vanderhoof and Lake District Community Services in Burns Lake we were told stories about potential employees -- whose salaries are higher than many in these communities -- who couldn't find a place to live.

At Neighbourlink in Vanderhoof we heard from an RCMP officer about homeless people who commit petty crimes so that they can be arrested and have the shelter, safety, warmth and food that a jail cell brings. He said this happens 2 to 3 times a month in Vanderhoof. Neighburlink provides a food bank, community meals, motel vouchers, emergency support for young mothers, support for homeless transients in town, and more -- all without any support from any level of government. All they ask for is some financial support from the provincial government -- in the 90s they got a small subsidy -- and we promised we would pursue this.

So far we have noticed that a large number of the homeless people in this region are young men who couch surf and are very hard to identify so they receive minimal support and services.

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