VICTORIA - British Columbia has among the healthiest people - and the best health care - anywhere in the world.
Life expectancy in British Columbia, at 82 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.
In B.C., we spend the third-lowest per capita on health care, but have some of the best outcomes in Canada, and we continue to work towards an innovative and sustainable health care system.
The ministry released Setting Priorities for the BC Health System, which addresses the health care needs of today and tomorrow rather than continuing to practice under a system largely designed in the 1960s. In order to bring about this change, we have developed a series of policy papers. These papers focus on how we can move away from our dependence on hospitals by building community and primary care capacity, better managing surgical services, revitalizing rural health care and continuing to promote 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.
- Third lowest overall incidence rate of cancer in the country.
- 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 (UV) 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 per cent.
- The BC Cancer Agency provides comprehensive cancer screening programs, such as the screening mammography program and the cervical cancer screening program. 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 per cent in the national heart attack rate.
- We also have 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 16.2 per cent - and this is thanks in part due to the Ministry of Health's tobacco control initiatives, 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 178,000 people have accessed B.C.’s Smoking Cessation program.
- In addition, the Tobacco and Vapour Products Act provides a baseline of protection against second-hand smoke for British Columbians all throughout the province in outdoor spaces - everyone must have a buffer zone of three meters from most public and workplaces - and all schools in B.C. are completely tobacco free at all times. The Motor Vehicle Act also requires smoke-free vehicles for all children under 16.
- British Columbia is recognized as a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS due to the innovative programs that have expanded access to medications and treatments. Since 1996, HIV/AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 80 per cent thanks in large part to programs like Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS) and Treatment as Prevention.
- Insulin pumps for British Columbians up to age 25 who require them to manage their type 1 diabetes are covered by B.C. PharmaCare and 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 including needles, syringes, and blood glucose test strips
- The Ministry of Health provides a monthly subsidy of up to $250 to assist metabolic disorder patients with the 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.
- The agreement with Doctors of BC is another step forward in our continued work to collaborate with doctors on improving health care services for patients. The five year term of this agreement, ending in 2019, provides long term stability for patients and physicians — and provides the opportunity for the parties to focus on working collaboratively to improve health care services.
Laura HeinzeMedia Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (Media line)