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September 8, 2009

Public Health Cut Funds Olympic Secretariat

If you just look at the totals you might think the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport got a big budget increase after the election, because in February it was scheduled to get an annual budget of $70.7 million but in September it was increased to $87.3 million. The devil is in the details!

The Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport includes some sport programs and some health programs. Responsibility for "population and public health" was part of the Ministry both before and after the election, but responsibility for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat was with the Ministry of Finance before the election and shifted to the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport after the election. While the Secretariat was part of the Ministry of Finance, the February budget gave it $32.3 million for 2009-2010; the budget for the Games Secretariat was increased by $8.4 million to $40.7 million after the election when it was transferred to Healthy Living and Sport. At the same time the budget for population and public health was cut.

The Campbell government is fond of telling British Columbians how much it is spending on health care, but you have to read through the fine print of the February pre-election and September post-election budgets for each ministry to discover that after the election it cut funding for population and public health from $43.6 million to $24.9 million. The "estimates book" is the document that provides details the budget for each ministry. It describes the budget for population and public health as providing for "… the development of Population and Public Health policy and programs to support health promotion, health protection, disease prevention, health assessment and disease surveillance." It also provides for policies and programs related to mental health and addictions; the protection and maintenance of conditions essential for sustaining the quantity and quality of water resources; the setting of standards for monitoring and reporting on air and water quality as it relates to health; the development of policies and programs to support seniors' health; support and services to help improve Aboriginal health and for policy development and support for women and their children in the areas of health promotion, disease, disability and injury prevention, and physical activity and participation in sport. With 43% less money than the budget promised before the election, exactly what services are being cut? Don't wait for the Campbell government to provide a list!

Line by line comparison of estimates by ministry and program before and after the election will no doubt reveal many surprises, but none so shocking as increasing funding for the Games Secretariat at the same time funding is cut for public health.

Check the figures for yourself. The pre-election "estimates book" is at; see pages 125-130 for Healthy Living and Sport and page 98 for the Ministry of Finance's pre-election Games Secretariat budget..

The post-election "estimates book" is at; see pages 133-138 and page 200 in Appendix A.


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