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How are we partnering with community to attract new doctors?
An MSA, division, and health authority collaboration with business and municipal partners is helping to solve barriers to recruitment, including a shortage of housing.

2024 Lightning Talk: Housing Collaborative: Supporting Physician Recruitment and Retention, Dr. Diala El-Zammar, Chilliwack MSA (in photo)

Chilliwack’s medical staff is partnering with local businesses with support from their municipality to attract doctors by solving barriers to recruitment, including a shortage of housing.

Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) has faced persistent challenges in specialist recruitment and retention, exacerbated by a competitive hiring landscape with nearby hospitals, limited call room space, and both long and short-term housing shortages – including hotels – in the community.

As many as 17 physician vacancies have prompted Chilliwack to adopt unique strategies to attract and retain physicians to their area. 

Partnering and sharing resources

As a key step inspired by other MSAs, the CGH MSA, Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, and Fraser Health partnered with the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) and Algra Brothers to secure housing for potential recruits, new and visiting physicians, clinical assistants, and locums.

Through a shared funding model, each partner contributed to the project according to their financial policies.


  • CEPCO facilitated local connections with Algra Brothers and contributed financially towards a new apartment for physicians at a low daily rate of $50.
  • Having a convenient space for prospective candidates visiting the community is proving to be a positive recruitment feature.
  • If available, the space can also serve as a room for on-call physicians and clinical assistants who live outside of Chilliwack and support hospital patients with 24-48 hour call shifts.
  • Local businesses are supporting welcome packages and tours of Chilliwack for new physicians, showcasing attractive aspects of the community outside of health care, for longer term recruitment.

Lessons and success factors

  • A partnership of the MSA, Division, Fraser Health, and local municipality and business partners is effective to leverage each partner's resources.  
  • Start discussions with community partners as soon as possible. 

Accommodations for visiting medical professionals

“Having additional space for people to stay in on their call shifts can really add to Chilliwack being an attractive site for people to continue to work at, because that has been a barrier in the past from a retention perspective.” – Dr Dara Donnelly, Vice President, Chilliwack MSA

“We have clinical assistants that come to help cover pediatric and psychiatry call because physicians are burning out in those groups. So, we have fellows and residents that help but who don’t make much money and they are still having to pay for accommodation when they come here. This housing can help support them and it’s an aspect of recruitment because these are new grads, they may love Chilliwack and choose to move here.” – Dr Diala El-Zammar, President, Chilliwack MSA



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