Auditor General’s Report Highlights Need For Prevention Funding in BC

By Ted Bruce

A newly released report by the Auditor General of BC shows that health care expenditures on prevention in BC are in the 3% – 4% for most health authorities. According to the Auditor General this represents $536 million of the $12.6 billion in health authority expenditures. What is most interesting is the comment in the Report, that prevention has been a dominant theme in recent Throne Speeches.

Clearly there is a serious disconnect: what we need in health care, and what the government states is a priority, and how money is being spent. A major infusion of funds for prevention is needed. PHABC’s position is that the amount should double.

What is needed? Clearly, if the government is serious in Throne Speeches since 2008, as reported by the Auditor General, we need political will. And funding needs to follow. Interestingly, the Ministry of Health is developing a new Public Health Plan for the Province. A central feature of this Plan should be clarity about prevention priorities and details on new funding to support these. This matter is too important. The numbers are out. The funding and action must be next.

Read more:
B.C. spends little on healthy living, disease prevention despite its priority status, auditor general says, Vancouver Sun, Thursday, January 17th, 2013.

B.C. spends little on health wellness and prevention, says watchdog John Doyle, Victoria Times Colonist, Friday, January 18th, 2013.

Read the Auditor General’s full report: http://www.bcauditor.com/pubs/2013/special/health-funding-explained  (See page 6 for an overview of health spending in British Columbia, 2011/2012)

Read the Auditor General’s Project Overview: http://www.bcauditor.com/online/pubs/775/775

– Ted Bruce is the Past President of the Public Health Association of BC.

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Is 6% a Real Solution?

By Ted Bruce

PHABC has called for a doubling of the amount of funds going to prevention, from the current 3% to 6%. And so have others including the Select Standing Committee on Health of the BC legislature – and they called for it twice – in 2004 and in their 2006 report, A Strategy for Combatting Childhood Obesity and Physical Inactivity in British Columbia. What is truly remarkable about the call by the Select Standing Committee is that it is an all party Committee of the legislature. It is not one political party trying to score points at the expense of another. Nor is it one party trying to align with a special interest group to win votes. This was, on two occasions, a powerful consensus of elected officials who recognized that far too little is spent on prevention. 

And yet government has not taken action.

There is nothing magical about 6% although a growth rate like that would make a significant difference in capacity. What is magical is the significant body of evidence that clearly shows prevention has major impacts on a variety of diseases. It is clear a major increase in prevention funding will make a difference. We hear a lot about the need to “bend the curve” of health care costs – that is slow down the growth in spending on health care. Does government have a plan? They call it an innovation agenda. One simple innovation is to invest in prevention. It is easy to debate the size of the increase. Is there evidence that this is the “right” amount”? Is there enough infrastructure and personnel to support an expansion? The actual amount of investment can be debated but the real issue is the leadership necessary to make the investment.

Back in 2006 our elected officials spoke out. Will they speak out in the lead up to the 2013 election?

Ask them. The PHABC Election Toolkit can help.

Learn more about why PHABC thinks an increase in prevention funding is critical. 

– Ted Bruce is the Past President of the Public Health Association of BC.