Minister of Health Protests Too Much?

By Ted Bruce

The B.C. Minister of Health, Margaret MacDiarmid, has spoken out in the media about the Auditor General’s report on the funding for prevention. She says she has no apologies for the amount spent on prevention, arguing that the more than $500 million spent this past year represents a 160% increase in the past 12 years. One hates to think what the percentage was before these increases if it is around 4% in most health authorities now. Or maybe what she fails to mention is the much bigger increases devoted to sickness care.

Let’s be clear, the fastest growing part of the health care system is not prevention. She also challenges people to say what acute services we could do without if we are to divert money to prevention. Surely the Minister knows health economists tell us that up to 30% of health dollars may now be spent inefficiently or on unnecessary care. Even at that no one is asking for us to take existing money away from acute care. We are talking about new money that will flow into the system in future years. Minister MacDiarmid goes on state that prevention is critical to the sustainability of the health care system. What is needed is leadership to begin the process of re-balancing the system to one that focuses on health and wellness. Perhaps putting money in place to achieve the stated focus on prevention outlined in recent Speeches from the Throne would be a good starting point.

Learn more:
Strengthening disease prevention in B.C. with PHABC’s Election Toolkit resources

Read more: 
Auditor General Report Slams B.C. Health Spending, Huffington Post, Thursday January 17, 2013
Minister says B.C. wait lists too long, Globe and Mail, Friday January 18th, 2013

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