This blog post is a guide to understanding how our Health Minister and the Ministry of Health operates. It will give you some background on the ministry’s mandate, authority like smart square penn state, and responsibilities; an overview of what happens at a daily meeting of the health minister’s council; what new legislation the Ministry has put forward this year; as well as information about funding for healthcare services in Canada.

1. What’s the Ministry of Health’s mandate and authority?

The Ministry of Health has a mandate to protect, promote, and restore the physical and mental well-being of British Columbians. The Ministry develops provincial health policies that cover:

  • Publicly funded health services (health providers)
  • Provincial drug insurance plan (pharmaceutical drugs)
  • Vital Statistics & Cemeteries (burials and death certificates)
  • Health Informatics (information technology development & management)

Today, our population is approximately 4.4 million in BC. Of this, approximately 2. 0 million people are eligible to receive publicly funded health care services.

  • 1.3 million have private health insurance 
  • 1.2 million receive their care through the BC family physician Health Care Plan (BC FPP)
  • 200,000 are seniors who are eligible for specialty services under the Medical Services Plan (MSP)
  • 100,000 residents do not have access to MSP or FPP and typically pay cash for medical procedures, doctors’ visits and other services such as physiotherapy and chiropractic care.

Each year, our ministry invests almost $5 billion in operating funds, capital grants and targeted project funding (including more than $1 billion in operating grants to support MSP).

2. How does the health minister’s council operate?

The Health Minister is supported by the health minister’s council (HMC). The HMC is made up of senior public servants from across the province and meets once a month to set health policy for the province. The HMC meets to:

  • Review a draft annual plan
  • Conduct an analysis of the current and forecasted health care needs of British Columbia
  • Discuss and develop policy recommendations on funding priorities and/or other health-related issues
  • Approve new policies or guidance documents

The HMC works with the Health Minister’s office to develop long-term health plans. The ministry will then move ahead with this new direction during the budget process, which starts in April each year.

3. What are the changes underway in BC’s healthcare system?

Elections BC recently released a summary of recent legislative changes that have been made since last year (click here for details).

  • Repeal of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) and private insurance coverage for seniors. Starting October 1, 2011, all MSP eligible residents will receive their medical care through the BC FPP (which still provides prescription drug benefits).
  • Increase in spending on hospital-based medical services with a focus on high-cost elective procedures and diagnostic imaging. This change means that more hospital services will be provided in smaller facilities.
  • Increase in funding for mental health services, both in the province’s hospital system and through clinical programs.
  • New provincial drug plan will provide pharmaceutical drugs to all residents with no copayments for medications deemed an essential service by the provincial government.

4. What kinds of funding are available for health services in BC?

There are two major sources of revenue for health service providers in B.C.: the Medical Services Plan (MSP) and the BC Provincial Health Service Authority. 

  • MSP is a pay-as-you-go block budget with a legislated amount of funding that can vary from year to year depending on utilization and cost changes. The MSP budget is funded by a combination of personal income taxes along with general (provincial) tax revenues raised in the province. 
  • The BC Provincial Health Service Authority (BC PHSA) is an independent administrative agency that administers funding for medical service providers. The authority’s primary source of funding is through user fees collected from health care service providers such as hospitals, physicians, and home care agencies.

There are other smaller sources of funding that also support healthcare operations in B.C, including: 1) public grants (federal and provincial), 2) other non-recurring revenue, and 3) patient revenue sharing.

5. What is the Ministry of Health doing about the new PharmaCare program?

The Ministry of Health has been working since June 2009 to create a new BC PharmaCare program that would provide public insurance for all surgical and some routinely prescribed medications.

This new PharmaCare program was delivered as per legislation in December 2011 and included coverage for approximately 3,400 prescription drugs. The new drug benefit plan is incorporated into the BC FPP.

6. How are drug costs changing?

The Ministry of Health is working with drug manufacturers and the private sector to reduce overall healthcare expenditures. 

  • The BC government is launching a new drug review process that will replace a voluntary review system. This new process will identify better value options for drugs and help decrease overall system costs by reducing unnecessary services.
  • As part of the Provincial PharmaCare program, the Ministry of Health will be offering up to 20% off future price increases for all major pharmaceuticals purchased under PharmaCare from 2012 through 2017.


The current health system in BC is over $21 billion per year . This is a staggering figure and one that needs to be addressed. The government of BC cannot continue to spend the way it has in the past. There must be a new approach if the system is to survive. I guess we are about to see how the new model for health care in BC will work out. Only time will tell if there are any positives coming out of this changeover.

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