BC Health Literacy Strategy (2010)


The Health and Literacy Institute organized by the Centre for Literacy and Bow Valley College in Calgary in October 2008[1] brought together people from across Canada and the United States who were interested in examining how to design health literacy curricula for health care providers. BC participants who attended the sessions realized then that the province was ideally positioned to lead the way in Canada by bringing together people from different sectors to collaboratively develop a provincial health literacy strategy (Health Literacy Strategy).

Over the next few months, the group[2] met to plan and convene the first BC Health Literacy Roundtable at Douglas College. On March 27, 2009, 34 individuals from a variety of organizations met to initiate discussion on the need for a Health Literacy Strategy for BC, identify existing strengths and actions and build on these as a foundation for the future, identify concrete steps to move the health literacy agenda forward, and seek consensus on next steps to maintain momentum and commitment.[3]

The Roundtable participants agreed that a strategic process was an important stage that would precede the development of a strategic plan. There was also strong support for the concept of a ‘network of networks’ approach to map and connect the various activities taking place and the organizations involved in the area of health literacy, as part of a longer range coordinated knowledge exchange and integrated process.

It became clear that there was enough interest and energy to collaboratively design a Health Literacy Strategy for the province. Fourteen Roundtable participants volunteered to continue in a coordinating capacity to maintain the momentum achieved during the day’s discussion by articulating the strategy and bringing it back to the larger group for further discussion.

Since that time, the coordinating committee has continued to meet and work on developing a Health Literacy Strategy for BC, resulting in this draft strategic plan for improving health literacy in BC. Reviewing this draft will be the next step in the conversation that is planned for the 2nd BC Health Literacy Roundtable, to take place on June 11 2010 at Douglas College.[4]

This document starts with a definition and articulation of the rationale for focusing on health literacy.  The next section presents a vision, goals and structures for the strategy.  The third section looks at the principles and values of the collaborative work of designing and implementing a Health Literacy Strategy. The fourth section explores issues related to monitoring and reporting.

[1] For more information on the Calgary Institute go to:

[2] Representatives from several organizations were involved in planning and coordinating the roundtable, including: Public Health Agency of Canada, Douglas College, Public Health Association of BC, Health and Learning Knowledge Centre of the Canadian Council on Learning, BC Academic Health Council, BC Ministry of Health Services, BC Mental Health and Addictions Services, and Providence Health Care

[3] For a report of the 1st BC Health Literacy Roundtable go to: http://www.douglas.bc.ca/visitors/health-community-partnership-centre/health-promotion/health-literacy.html

[4] For information on the 2nd BC Health Literacy Roundtable go to: http://www.douglas.bc.ca/visitors/health-community-partnership-centre/health-promotion/health-literacy/events.html

To access the full paper visit: BC Health Literacy Strategy_ 2010