BC Health Act Renewal Project

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First Slide

Rationale for the Project

  • SARS, the Walkerton tainted water crisis, the threat of pandemic influenza, and challenges of preventing chronic diseases have intensified the need to develop a new Public Health Act.
  • Public health legislation is a cornerstone of effective public health action.
  • Current legislation is outdated, fragmented, and has many gaps.
  • New health challenges require new public health legislation that is modern, coherent and connected, comprehensive, and flexible to meet emerging needs.
  • Failure to update the act may have the following consequences:
    • Public health practitioners lack tools available in other jurisdictions.
    • Public health service delivery barriers.
    • Reduced ability of government to protect and improve health, and respond adequately to public health issues and emergencies, with potential serious consequences for the government and the public.


  • Steering Committee – Chaired by Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer
  • Working Committee – Chaired by Dr. Brian Emerson, Medical Consultant
  • Public health service delivery barriers.
  • Task Groups – for specific issues


  • Policy analysis, discussion papers
  • Targeted consultation – email, attend meetings, teleconferences, conference presentations
  • Website http://www.healthservices.gov.bc.ca/phact/
  • Public Health law network – national network of people working with public health law


  • Project initiated in spring, 2003
  • Discussion papers, preliminary consultations during 2003/04
  • Website launched January, 2005
  • Consultation Public Health Act posted November 2005
  • Drafting bill fall/winter 2005

Consultations that have occurred

  • Medical Health Officers
  • Health Protection Directors
  • Public Health Nurses
  • BC Centre for Disease Control
  • Union of BC Municipalities
  • Health Canada – First Nations Inuit Health Branch
  • First Nations health policy group
  • BC Health Promotion Coalition
  • Public Health Dental staff
  • Tobacco enforcement officers and coordinators
  • Nutritionists

Feedback from consultations

  • Good opportunity to clarify roles, responsibilities, and relationships
  • Important to have modern legislative tools
  • Be careful not to lose strengths of existing Act
  • Focus on outcomes of how this will improve health
  • Ensure complements other related legislation
  • Avoid enshrining structures that may change in the future – should be useful for many years.

Content of proposed Public Health Act


  • Establish powers, duties, functions of minister, PH officials, health agencies, local government etc.
  • Define requirements for core programs and population health promotion planning.
  • Provide for measures central to public health protection and improvement i.e. Communicable Disease
  • Control, Health Hazards, Public Health Threats and Emergencies
  • Provide for regulations and other procedures to deal with specific issues.
  • Ensure individual privacy protection and public interest information release.
  • Provide for penalties, immunities, and administrative processes.
  • Establish a common terminology.