The Nova Scotia government says it will create a pool of physicians to fill emergency room shifts in rural areas of the province.

Health Minister David Wilson said the emergency department coverage program will improve access to ERs in the province’s smaller communities.

The Dexter government unveiled a new recruitment program to find doctors to cover the rural shifts. To take part in the program, physicians must have appropriate clinical training and experience to match each designated facility.

Beau Blois is one of 10 doctors who have agreed to take part. He's been practicing for two years and currently lives in Truro.

He said this program won't be the only answer to emergency room closures in Nova Scotia.

"It's one step towards that," he said. "This is just shifting around the human resources that we have. It's not making more doctors available. It's just letting me know that if I'm off that day and I haven't got any other responsiblities, I could go in and fill a shift somewhere else."

In Cape Breton, a lack of doctors to cover shifts has been a chronic problem in three hospitals: New Waterford, Glace Bay and North Sydney. The Cape Breton District Health Authority believes the program will make a difference in those locations.

"This is another tool that will hopefully help us limit the number of temporary and unexpected closures that we've experienced," said Greg Boone, a spokesperson for the health authority. "It's something that we hope we can benefit from in the future."

With files from The Canadian Press.