In 2015, health-care funding will again reach a record level - $17.4 billion - more than double the amount spent in 2000-01.
“In B.C., we invest a tremendous amount in our health-care system - nearly half the total provincial budget - to ensure that British Columbians live long, healthy lives,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “We have an incredibly complex system, and are constantly striving to improve it through ongoing investments in health infrastructure, services and programs for patients, and health-care training.”
In 2014, B.C. invested in new and expanded health-care infrastructure, to the tune of $824.1 million in total project costs. This includes $62.2 million on the new HOpe Centre - the Greta & Robert Ho Centre for Psychiatry and Education in North Vancouver, $71 million to complete phase one of the $678-million BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital Redevelopment, and $55 million for a new Lakes District Hospital in Burns Lake.
This past year, the Province also announced a new patient care tower to be built at Penticton Regional Hospital, and kicked off site preparation for the $79.8-million Clinical Services Building at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, where construction on the new building is now well underway.
“As we move into 2015, we continue our strategic focus on ensuring that patients are at the centre of health-care delivery, and that we are continuing to make enhancements to the system that improve overall health outcomes, all while respecting the interests of taxpayers,” added Lake.
“This work will be carried through to the health authorities - for example, Fraser Health recently completed a strategic and operational review, which concluded that their goals to improve patient care closely aligned with the Province’s priorities. I look forward to working with Fraser Health’s new CEO, Michael Marchbank, as he continues to focus on improving care in the region and maintaining the long-term fiscal sustainability of the health authority.”
“We will also keep working to help British Columbians get and stay healthier by highlighting disease-prevention and health-promotion activities, through our Healthy Families BC agenda and programs like the School Fruit and Veggie program, Informed Dining and our partnership with ParticipACTION.”
Increasing access to primary care:
“We know that access to primary and community care is one of the biggest drivers of health,” said Lake. “That is why, as we move forward, one of our main strategic priorities is to continue to put supports in place that help ensure patients have access to care in their communities.”
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2014, Health Match BC filled 159 physician vacancies, including recruiting 32% of their family physicians and 15% of their specialists to rural communities.
To further enhance B.C.’s health-care capacity, medical training in the province continued to expand. By 2015, B.C. will graduate 288 medical students per year - 32 more than previous years. In addition, the Ministry of Health will fund 338 entry-level residency positions in 2014-15, including 50 for international medical graduates.
Training locations throughout the province are also increasing - in 2014, a family practice residency program launched in Kamloops, along with a new emergency medicine residency training site in Kelowna, and a site for family practice residencies in North Vancouver.
“By putting a focused effort into making sure we are training more doctors in B.C., we are providing for the health-care needs of the future,” said Lake.
Mental health and addictions services:
Through a $20-million investment from the Province, all health authorities will create programs and services to help strengthen local services for people struggling with severe addiction and mental health issues.
“One in five Canadians is diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime,” said Lake. “That is why, in 2014, we delivered on our Mental Health Action Plan to improve care for patients with severe addiction and mental health needs by launching new services such as an Assertive Outreach Team in Vancouver and opening a new Acute Behavioural Stabilization Unit at St. Paul's Hospital - which was the first of its kind in B.C.”
In the fall of 2014, two additional milestones were achieved under the plan - the opening of 14 new rehabilitation and recovery beds for adults and six new group home beds for youth. The ministry is also providing $2 million in matched funding to each regional health authority to strengthen services for this population. The new services, to be developed in 2015, will include Assertive Community Treatment teams serving Surrey, Delta, Mission, Abbotsford, Kelowna and Kamloops.
In August 2014, the Province announced that it was strengthening primary care support for people struggling with addictions, by providing $3 million to support the work of Dr. Evan Wood.
Savings for British Columbians:
While creating efficiencies in the health-care system and reducing costs is a priority, the Province has also focused on creating health-care savings for British Columbians in their day-to-day lives.
In 2014, B.C. provided an additional $750,000 to the successful farmer’s market coupon program, which provides subsidies in the form of coupons to low-income pregnant women, families with children and seniors to buy select B.C.-produced foods at local farmers’ markets.
The Province also announced an expansion to the insulin pump program for those with Type 1 diabetes, expanding coverage of the pumps to young adults up to the age of 25 years, from 18. The average cost of an insulin pump is about $6,500.
Saving both British Columbians and the Province valuable health-care dollars, the Pharmaceutical Services Act, which was put in place in 2012, allowed government to reduce the price of generic drugs up to 25% of the brand name price. In 2014, that reduction increased to 20%. That move alone has achieved $110 million in savings - exceeding the initial two-year commitment.
“I want British Columbians to feel confident in their health-care system - confident that they are receiving the best care possible, and confident that their valuable tax dollars are being spent wisely,” said Lake. “I know that over the past year we have made great strides, and I look forward to continuing that trajectory for 2015.”
To learn more about government’s priorities for the health system, please visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2014/Setting-priorities-BC-Health-Feb14.pdf
For an audio clip of Health Minister Terry Lake, please visit: https://soundcloud.com/bcgov/minister-lake-health-accomplishments-for-2014-january-01-2015/s-dMcUq
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)