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October 27, 2017 6:30 pm

Health Care Costs Climbing

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 @ 11:42 AM

Prince George, B.C. – The  Auditor General for B.C., Carol Bellringer,  says  health care spending  is  rising at a rapid rate.

“Between 2013 and 2018, health spending is projected to increase by $2.7 billion,” said Auditor General Carol Bellringer  in her  new report which is an update from  an information piece her office published in  2013.

Last year in B.C., the health sector spent $19.2 billion. Of that, the Ministry of Health spent $17.4 billion, or 37% of overall provincial expenses. This is three times more than the next largest ministry (Education).
Health spending per person in B.C. is $4,050 annually; the Canadian average is $4,095.

Bellringer also notes  not all areas of B.C.’s health-care system are expanding at the same rate.  From 2012-13 to 2015-16, acute-care (emergency, post-surgical, critical-care) spending went up 11%; residential care (seniors’ homes, community group homes) went up 5%; community care (in-home nursing care) went up 14%; mental-health and substance-use services went up 3%. Public health and wellness (prevention programs, screening, communicable disease control) went down 1%.

A significant portion of the province’s health-care funding comes from the federal government via the Canada Health Transfer.  The Province received $4.5 billion last year. How much is transferred is about to change. Since 2006, the transfer has grown by 6% a year, but as of April 2017 onward, it will only grow by about 3% a year. Under the recently signed agreement with Health Canada, B.C. will also receive an additional $1.4 billion from the federal government over the next ten years.

In its 2015 report on B.C.’s fiscal sustainability, Bellringer’s office noted rising health-care costs might threaten the provincial government’s ability to provide services and meet financial commitments, both now and in the future.


I wonder if the fentanyl crisis and the funds they have poured into this is included, or is this before the figures?

    As I recall there was $43 million spent on the junkies but that didn’t include everything.

      ask me when your grand daughter is one of those so called Junkies.

      It is different when it hits home. no family is immune to members being or becoming addicted to drugs.

      Geez, 42 million! Go after the Do gooders who want to keep on spending and these ‘supervised’ injection sites! Which by the way some guy got stabbed to death outside of one of these sites on Main Street? Ironic eh! Maybe some of these sad events can be avoided if the parents stay more in tune? Once you reach a certain age it becomes a choice!

      He spoke, I apologize. Guess I’ve seen too much of the underbelly.
      Makes me sick to see all these DTES people keep ramming it in.
      It also tears me up when I see money going in to this sick epidemic and we can’t get surgeries open, can’t pay for a helicopter ambulance, a Dr. who can perform angiograms locally isn’t given the time or support.

As long as it remains a disease management model instead of a health creation model, costs will continue to rise.

    I agree with Filtered, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, yet we see public health and wellness (prevention programs, screening, communicable disease control) spending went down 1%.

    IMO, this is a very short sighted approach.

      I’m writing this date in my calendar. I actually agree with Peeps.

      And yet, on this site anyway, bike lanes – the purpose of which is to promote safe and healthy cycling are regularly trashed as a waste of money – even though we haven’t had one full season with bike lanes yet. And, the big complaint against bike lanes is people have to walk further to get to where they need to go – walking, another healthy pursuit.

      So, if people wish to complain about the high cost of healthcare, perhaps you might want to encourage people to do healthy things like ride bikes, walk rather than drive. Experts say that exercise is the one thing you can do that will for sure improve your health. So you can smoke, drink, overeat, and exercise will still benefit you.

      As a side issue, they closed my parkade, so I decided to park outside of the downtown zone and walk, and now every day, I get 20 minutes of exercise, and save $80.00 a month. Not sure I’ll be going back to the parkade when the reno’s are finished. Kind of got in the habit of walking now.

      BTW – I am marking this day in my calendar as well.

      Ya but why do we needed dedicated bike lanes and the money spent on them? How did we ride bikes before bike lanes? I travel on the roads everyday and a bike in a bike lane is a rarity especially for money spent.

      I see most of the bike lane road signage painted on the roads has worn away. What will get painted first, actual useful road lines or bike signs?

      The problem with the bike lanes in this city is that there was no thought put into them. They just painted a bunch of pictures on the existing pavement and put up a couple of signs. I’ve lived and biked full time in a couple of large cities and I just shake my head in disbelief at PG’s alleged bike lanes.

      Have you ever tried to cycle down Foothills from Chief Lake? Now that’s an adventure!

The last paragraph could be interpreted to mean a tax increase after the next election.

    It may be so, but it is better than being sent home from emergency being told its really not that of an emergency that you have suffered a stroke.

    That’s funny one axman, try to ride up Foothills. I have. As has been pointed out walking and bike riding are certainly a good health insurance for this old coot.

I’ve seen the northern health payroll, everyone should have a look.. there are your expenses.

    You got that right. The amount of money paid to some Northern Health Employee’s is beyond belief. Same applies to other Government, and Government entity jobs.

    Taxpayers are between a rock and a hard place.

Our ‘free’ healthcare system is anything but. Too many bureaucrats and too few front line workers. It’s become bloated and inefficient. Like Palopu says, tax increases could be coming. The money has to come from somewhere.

How about getting rid of all of the separate health regions.. with northern health, island health, etc etc how many times is the same job duplicated? Would get reduce management by %65 st least… better communication would result…more efficient for sure…

    NO WAY, we in the north will be holding the barrel. We all know where all the money and resources will go. We will die slowly and painfully if this happens.

    I like the idea. Do you have any idea how many managers at 100 grand and over would lose their jobs due to redundancy? The savings would be in the high millions, which could be returned to “Health Care”.

Stories like this nearly always focus on the percentage of Provincial revenues that are spent on something – Health care in this case. However, this is an often inaccurate reference point for comparison year to year. As an example, BC Ferries used to be part of Provincial revenues and expenditures. When the provincial government went through the fiasco of making it a company with a single shareholder it ceased to be factored into revenues and expenditures, and the percentage went up. The dollar amount did not, just the percentage. That was because the reference point changed.

If, instead of the percentage of government expenditures being the reference point it is the percentage of the Gross Provincial Product (Provincial equivalent of the Federal Gross Domestic Product) then year to year comparisons for the past 40 years can be made since the reference point is the same, yet allows for population increases, inflation and changes in what the government includes in its accounting (such as BC Ferries).

I tracked this several years ago for a long time and, although the dollar amount increased, the percentage of the GPP that was spent on Health and Welfare was fairly constant at between 8.5% – 9% of the GPP. Under the Liberals that has declined and the province has been spending proportionally less on health and welfare than was done previously.

This is one of those little hidden facts that governments never talk about so as to pull the wool over voters’ eyes and mislead them with slanted propaganda. Next they will be telling us it is unsustainable even though it has been sustained successfully at approximately the same level for 40 years.

    Dangerous assumption ammonra. The world and government has changed significantly in the last 40 years. This kind of thinking breeds complacency and the status quo.

      Where is the assumption? The 8.5% – 9% of GPP was what the government statistics actually gave. Not an assumption, actual, real data. If you mean the 40 years of Health care, well, don’t we still have health care, even if it has been damaged by deliberate underfunding and bureaucratic excessive oversight? Bring the funding back to the 8.5% – 9% level and lay off some of the superfluous bureaucrats in Health Regions and our health care system should function quite well at an affordable cost.

      I have known RS to become easily confused in the past, perhaps your use of the term “Gross Provincial Product” (GPP) has confused him? I would have called it Provincial Gross Domestic Product or Provincial GDP.

      You are correct about measuring spending on any sector as a percentage of Provincial GDP, this method of measuring expenditures has commonly been used over the decades. For instance the amount of funding for Public Education, as a percentage of BC’s GDP has gone down over the period the BC Liberals have been in office.

      Thankd for agreeing with me ammonra. I think you get the point I was trying to make.

    So you are saying Bc should spend 5.6 billion more than they do as 23 billion is about 9% of GDP

    Where do you want to take that out of, I know how about the education budget!

      Well, No. I was saying that the Liberals have deliberately and systematically reduced the funding of health care in BC, and that is why we have so many problems with it.

      If 9% of the GPP is $23 Billion, then 1% must equal about $2.55 Billion. Since you say the Liberals underfund by $5.6 Billion, that is something over a 2% shortfall in health funding. In other words, the Liberals are funding health care at about 7% of the GPP instead of the historical 8.5% – 9%. Thank you for making my point so clearly for me Slinky, I appreciate it.

      On the other hand, I think your suggestion that health care funding should be taken from education funding to be absolutely asinine.

      Where should the money come from? Remember there is only one taxpayer.

      From the Prosperity Fund of course Rusty. Isn’t that supposed to have a $100 Billion dollars in it soon?

      RS, there is NOT only one taxpayer; the government gets its revenue from a number of sources, through a variety of revenue streams! Personal income tax (us taxpayers that you claim to be the only source); Corporation income tax; Natural Resource taxes / royalties; Taxes on payments to non-residents; Equalization payments, or other revenue transfers from the federal government; dividends from the federal government and from public utilities; … and that’s just scratching the surface, RS you need to know your subject area before you make non-specific uninformed comments.

      If 17.4 billion is 37 percent of revenues that works out to about 470 million dollars per percent

      Although 5.6 billion is only two percent of GDP it is another 12 percent of the budget. The budget hasn’t risen as fast as the GDP obviously

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we do not have a “health care” crisis in BC, or in Canada for that matter! We continue to spend more and more and more on “health care”!

We do not have a “health care” crisis, what we have is in fact, a “health” crisis!

Using We as in the collective “We”…..,

We are overweight, far too often obese!

We smoke too much!

We drink too much!

We get very little, if any exercise!

We eat foods that are unhealthy!

We use dangerous and often illegal drugs!

We drive will little concern for our safety or the safety of others around us!

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that far too many of us expect the “Government” and the “health care system” to wipe our butts for us from cradle to grave!

We all need to do our part, even just a little bit more, to reduce our own personal demands on the “health care dollars”!

I’d much rather see our health care dollars spent treating some innocent child going through cancer treatments, than spent treating someone for heart disease caused by smoking, or diabetes caused by lack of exercise and poor diet choices!

I’m not advocating that we all become marathon runners and health food junkies, but if we could all do just a little bit, little bits add up to a lot!

    What’s this “We”? Ya got worms?

      Hartly, that’s all you have to add to the conversation?

    I fully agree with HartGuy! A few years ago I started taking a magnifying glass along when I go grocery shopping. The extremely small print on the ingredients list requires it! Practically all prepared canned food has significant amounts of sugar and salt added. There is MSG which is hiding under at least 40 different names! there is hydrolyzed fat and hydrolyzed corn syrup – nothing but more sugar! Just bought some 0% alcohol beer – one additive is phosphoric acid, of all things! Google phosphoric acid! I poured it all down the drain as I did not study the label! How is the consumer protected from ingredients that even Health Canada advises to avoid?

Bang On Hart Guy. No body should care more about your health than yourself. Every person should be taking initiatives to improve their life, and life style. It is only the job of the professionals to guide us and provide us information to change. The will to change needs to come from with in.

4 years ago, my BP was 165/118. With improved eating habits, and medication, I am down to 129/85. some will say it is a bit high, but better than before.

    Nobody should care more about your health than yourself. Really? The will to change needs to come from with in. Really?

    What about the health of our children? What about the health of our elderly and frail parents or grandparents? What about the health of the mentally and physically disabled who are not able of looking after themselves? Who is suppose to care and take responsibility for them?

    Is this is all about; I, me, mine… or do we really care about anyone outside ourselves?

      Peeps, what about you?

      Here’s 4 questions for you:

      1. Are you a responsible adult who is able to make decisions about one’s own health by eating better, exercising and taking care not to waste valuable health care dollars?

      2. Are you not able to take some responsibility for your own health?

      3. Are you a child, a frail and elderly parent or grandparent, a mentally and physically disabled person not able to look after yourself?

      4. Are you one of those that thinks that is the Government’s responsibility to wipe your butt and change your diaper from cradle to grave?

      In your case, I’m guessing #4, but that’s just my opinion, haha!

      Cheers! ;-)

      Don’t fret HG. I have known peeps to be easily confused in the past about the concept of taking personal responsibility for one’s self. ;)

I think thru the 70’s and better part of the 80’s, we were led to believe that if the FDA approved it to be on the self, all is good. Well they have lied, that is why we need to eat less processed foods. We need to buy more whole foods, and cook it ourselves.

We need our government to regulate for less chemicals in our food, I am not talking pure organic food. But make cheese real cheese not preservative. Make Meats that has less hormone injections. Have vegetables and fruits that is not covered in pesticides and preservatives. Is that too much to ask for. We should not have to go Organic, but we should be entitled to fresh, clean Whole Foods.

Look at the cost of heath authorities, with head HR plus 5 little helpers, plus their staff they eat up Millions month and keep building their empire.

Guaranteed some ying yang will jump on here and blame the Liberals! And yes to healthiness. I am almost 64 and I have done a lifetime of staying in shape through bodybuilding and martial arts plus lots of veggies and fish, etc.These people that are grossly overweight due to their eating habits and refusing to help themselves should be at the back of the bus and get looked after last. IE: knees operations due to being 100 pounds overweight, make the initiative to lose weight! Granted there are medical conditions that need to be considered, but if it is pure laziness why the hell should I and all the other taxpayers pay for new knees!

    All excellent posts. Raw veggies and fish(cooked) are extremely important in a diet. The younger crowd loves to heat it up quick and get back to the gaming so processed. Exercise my poor knees? YES. Adds more fluid to the joints, keeps you out of knee surgery. As He Spoke said, BP drops when you eat raw fruits and veggies, and no processed crap, everything in moderation.
    Dad lived til 102, rarely ate processed, but he smoked from 25 on, still haven’t figured that one out.

      In some cases genetics play a premier part. In my old career I used to deal with winos and drunks on the street, some of them had arteries clean as a whistle, they were the winos that drank cheap RED wine. So there is some proof that red wine is good for you! LOL

    Top of the discussion thread has comments about Fentanyl overdoses, this part discusses overweight people and the additional costs for replacing “knees”. Heck why stop there as an example about overweight people? Here is a comment I posted a few months back.

    We as a society have a serious problem on our hands, and that problem is the epidemic rate at which people (family members) are dying from fentanyl overdoses. Belittling these victims, and blaming them will not solve the fentanyl overdose problem.

    I suppose if the rest of us adopted your cynical attitudes, many scenarios can be played out. I could be walking down one of our city sidewalks, as I often do, and someone in front of me could keel over from a heart attack, sure I have a level 3 first aid certificate, and could perform life saving measures on this person… but first I need to stop and judge him like the rest of you are doing to these fentanyl overdose victims.

    When I look at this person lying on the sidewalk, I see someone who is obviously overweight, and probably does little exercise, I judge it to be this person’s fault they are having a heart attack, and so I walk away, thinking; why should I use my life saving skills on someone who obviously does not care about their health? Not my monkey, not my circus… so who cares right?

      Yep, who cares eh, you would be surprised! Time to let go and time for people to make responsible choices! Tough love is just that, maybe if there weren’t so many enablers out there people would be more apt to think about their decision making. We are all involved in this little circus of yours! Some people have led different paths than yours, obviously my life is different due to what I have seen and been involved in. You find my remarks calloused and I find yours mambo pampy. So we balance the masses out eh? P. S. If I found a person lying on the sidewalk I would be the first one there regardless of what the person looked like, I was trained to do that. Would you jump in without hesitation. I will leave it at that, you don’t know me. Anyways, have a good night there slim.

      I don’t think anyone is advocating not helping people, but what we are saying, for those of us who are able to live healthier lives, we need to do that, in order to leave more resources in the system for those who can’t. If we all take a “government will make my boo boo all better” attitude, the system will collapse. Had I kept on the path I was on, there was a better chance I would end up in extended care in my last 10 years, costing the pubic purse almost half a million dollars. All I had to do was get off my butt and walk a bit, and ride a bike a bit, and stay away from the fast food. Now that bed will be available for someone who was unable to do those things.

      So for those of us who can improve their health, we should, so that those who can’t, can receive the help they need.

And the Gov’t just reduced and some cases eliminated the MSP premiums (which for a lot of people was paid for by the employer). Better start finding more ways to generate wealth in BC or everyone’s taxes are going up and everyone’s services are going to go down, because everyone is getting older and health care costs are going up.

    It’s called government priorities. What are they? They seem to have a lot of extra money before an election.

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