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Purpose of the Ministry

The Ministry of Health is responsible for British Columbia’s health system, with a mandate to guide and enhance the province’s health services to ensure British Columbians are supported in their efforts to maintain and improve their health. The B.C. health system is one of the province’s most valued social programs as it touches all British Columbians’ lives — at some point virtually every person in the province will access some level of health care or health service. Furthermore, good health is critical to overall well-being because it enables people to enjoy their lives, take advantage of education and employment opportunities, and participate fully in society and the economy.

The Ministry of Health has overall responsibility for ensuring quality, appropriate and timely health services are available to British Columbians. The Ministry works with six health authorities, care providers, agencies and other groups to provide access to care. The Ministry provides leadership, direction and support to service delivery partners and sets province-wide goals, standards and expectations for health service delivery by health authorities. The Ministry enacts this leadership role through the development of social policy, legislation and professional regulation, through funding decisions, negotiations and bargaining, and through its accountability framework for health authorities.

The Ministry directly manages a number of provincial programs and services. The directly managed programs include the Medical Services Plan which covers most physician services, PharmaCare which provides prescription drug insurance for British Columbians, the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency and the Emergency Health Services Commission which provides ambulance services across the province as well as operating health and information programs for British Columbians, including the BC HealthGuide and NurseLine program.

The province’s six health authorities are the main organizations responsible for local health service delivery. Five regional health authorities are responsible for delivering a full continuum of health services to meet the needs of the population within their respective regions. A sixth health authority, the Provincial Health Services Authority, is responsible for managing the quality, co-ordination and accessibility of selected province-wide health programs and services. This includes the specialized programs and services provided through the following agencies: BC Cancer Agency, BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, BC Provincial Renal Agency, B.C. Transplant Society, BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre, Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission, Provincial Cardiac Services and Riverview Hospital.

The delivery of health services and the health of the population are continuously monitored and evaluated by the Ministry. These activities inform the Ministry’s strategic and policy direction to ensure the delivery of health services continues to meet the needs of British Columbians.

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