Premiers Urged to Tackle Largest Drivers of Healthcare Costs

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BCHLA members would have preferred that the 2014 Health Accord prioritize disease prevention

Barbara Kaminsky, BCHLA Chair and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon



Vancouver, BC, January 11, 2012 – Today in an open letter, members of the BC Alliance for Healthy Living encouraged Provincial and Territorial leaders gathering in Victoria to commit to action on the prevention of non-communicable diseases, which are the largest drivers of health care costs and often avoidable causes of premature death and disability.

Barbara Kaminsky, BCAHL Chair and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon said, “BCAHL members would have preferred that the 2014 Health Accord prioritize disease prevention in the same way the previous Accord prioritized and resulted in improvements in surgical wait-times. What gets measured and funded gets results. But even without this direction from the federal government, the Premiers can collaborate and work towards nationwide standards and goals to reduce chronic diseases, recognizing their financial and human costs. We wish them well in their deliberations.”

The BC Alliance for Healthy Living is a group of organizations that came together in 2003 with a mission to improve the health of British Columbians by addressing the risk factors and health inequities that contribute significantly to chronic disease.

Rita Koutsodimos, Manager Advocacy and Communications
BC Alliance for Healthy Living Secretariat
Ph: 604-629-1630 / 604-989-4546


Open Letter to the Premiers on the Occasion of their Meeting in Victoria,
January 15-16, 2012 

Dear Premier Clark, Chair of the Council of the Federation and Premiers of Canada’s Provinces and Territories,

As you gather for your meeting in Victoria, we know you will be discussing common concerns that you and other jurisdictions face, particularly in light of these challenging economic times. Among these will be increasing costs of publicly funded health care which are consuming ever greater shares of provincial and territorial budgets.

All jurisdictions are looking at ways to control the growth rate of health care expenditures driven by increasing and aging populations and the availability of, and demand for new and expensive diagnostic and treatment regimes.

In the opinion of the members of the BC Alliance for Healthy Living, of greatest importance and urgency is the need to prioritize and dedicate resources to the prevention of disease, particularly the avoidable morbidity and mortality resulting from many non-communicable diseases.

We know that diabetes, many cancers, as well as heart, circulatory and respiratory diseases in particular can either be prevented or dramatically delayed when we engage in healthier lifestyles. It is the treatment and consequences of these diseases which consume ever greater portions of our provincial and territorial budgets.

Encouraging Canadians to maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, consume a healthy diet, abstain from tobacco and limit their intake of alcohol is essential, but as well, we must recognize the factors which impede the ability of many Canadians to engage in healthier activities. Simplistic solutions based upon the premise that all Canadians enjoy equal opportunity for good health will not yield the long term results and avoidance of health care costs we would all like to see.

Improving the social and economic conditions for our most vulnerable populations including aboriginal populations is paramount and will require long term commitments from all levels of government. However, these changes must be made if we are to alleviate the unacceptable social and economic conditions which continue to hinder the health of so many.

We understand the Federal Government has already made commitments to a new Health Accord that will take effect in 2014, as well as the funding arrangements which will accompany it and that there are unlikely to be any specific conditions, outcomes or metrics attached to the funding.

In our view, it would be preferable for the Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments to agree on specific outcomes associated with the renewed Health Accord funding. Many who observe the health of Canadians were impressed with the gains that were made on wait-times through the targets set in the last accord. We still believe there is an opportunity for the Provincial and Territorial leaders to place a renewed focus and commit to additional resources for health promotion and disease prevention. These should be accompanied by specific metrics for monitoring changes in both the risk factors for non communicable diseases as well in the underlying conditions which contribute to them.

We ask that you charge your Health Ministers to work with the NGO community and come forward with policies, plans and programs which will build upon much good work already being undertaken throughout Canada to improve the health status of all Canadians and reduce inequities in health arising from differing cultural, economic and social circumstances.

We shall be providing some specific suggestions to your Health Ministers in the coming months on these matters and look forward to the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with them as we seek approaches to meet the challenges of sustaining our publicly funded health care system for future generations while establishing and meeting new goals for the good health of all Canadians.

We wish you well in your deliberations and hope you will have a productive and healthy meeting.

Yours truly,

BC Alliance for Healthy Living


Barbara Kaminsky Mary Collins
Chair, BC Alliance for Healthy Living and
CEO, Canadian Cancer Society,
BC & Yukon
Director, BC Alliance for Healthy Living Secretariat