British Columbia has among the healthiest people – and the best health care – anywhere in the world.
Life expectancy in British Columbia, at 82.65 years, is the highest in North America – topping all other provinces and states, and is amongst the best across all OECD countries. British Columbia also has the best survival rate for heart disease in Canada, the lowest incidence of cancer and, among those who do get cancer, the very best survival rates.
The ministry released Setting Priorities for the BC Health System (www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2014/Setting-priorities-BC-Health-Feb14.pdf), which addresses future health-care needs. To address the changes identified in the priorities document, the ministry developed a series of policy papers focused on building community care, better managing surgical services, rural health care and healthy lifestyles.
Ways B.C. is improving overall health outcomes for British Columbians:
- B.C. has the overall best cancer survival rates in Canada. According to 2015 estimates in the Canadian Cancer Society's Canadian Cancer Statistics report. In addition, B.C. men and women have:
- The lowest overall mortality rate for all cancers in Canada.
- The third lowest overall incidence rate of cancer in the country.
- The lowest incidence rate for lung and colorectal cancers.
- Among the best survival rates for breast cancer in Canada.
- According to the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, B.C. is a leader in cancer care in Canada, and the first in Canada to offer complementary and integrated care through InspireHealth and Healthy Families BC.
- In addition, B.C. has implemented a provincial regulation banning youth under the age of 18 from ultraviolet tanning to reduce their risk of developing cancer later in life. The World Health Organization has found that indoor tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of melanoma by 75%.
- The BC Cancer Agency provides comprehensive cancer screening programs, such as the screening mammography and cervical cancer screening programs. In addition, the provincial colorectal cancer screening program was rolled out in the province in 2013.
- B.C. has the lowest heart attack rate in Canada. A 2013 report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information confirms that British Columbia has the lowest overall heart attack rate per capita in Canada and leads the country in several other health indicators. The report estimates if all provinces had the same heart attack rate as B.C., there would be a potential decline of 19.5% in the national heart attack rate.
- B.C. also has the lowest heart disease mortality rate in Canada, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
- B.C. has the lowest smoking rates in Canada, at 15.3%. This is thanks in part to the government's tobacco control activities, such as tobacco taxation, restricting where smoking is allowed and supporting smokers to quit through programs like the Smoking Cessation program. This program provides coverage of prescription medications or free nicotine replacement therapies and other supports to help British Columbians stop smoking. Since its inception in 2011, more than 234,500 people have accessed B.C.’s Smoking Cessation program.
- Introduced in September 2016, the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and Regulation provides a baseline of protection against second-hand tobacco smoke and vapour-product emissions. The act bans smoking and the use of vapour products in all indoor public/work spaces, schools (K-12 at all times) and within six metres of doors, open windows and air intakes. The Motor Vehicle Act also requires smoke and vape-free vehicles for all children under 16.
- British Columbia is recognized as a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS due to programs that have expanded access to medications and treatments, such as the provincially-funded Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS program. As of 2015-16, 85% of people receiving HIV drug treatment in B.C. were living with a suppressed viral load. This has been shown to both improve health outcomes for people on treatment, as well as prevent transmission of the virus to others.
- B.C. PharmaCare covers insulin pumps for British Columbians up to age 25 who require them to manage their type 1 diabetes. Supplies for the pumps (reservoirs and infusion sets) are also covered for children and adults. PharmaCare covers effective therapies for the treatment and management of diabetes, including nine oral medications and 16 insulin products, vials, cartridges (for pumps) and insulin pens. Additionally, PharmaCare covers other diabetic supplies such as needles, syringes and blood glucose test strips.
- British Columbians with phenylketonuria (PKU) and other related metabolic disorders can now receive up to $3,200 per year to help with the high cost of low-protein foods. This support, in conjunction with the free metabolic formula supplied by the Provincial Health Services Authority, aims to ease some of the financial pressure associated with having PKU.