Public Health Act - Officials and Organizations Implementing Public Health Act

The provincial health officer is the senior medical health officer for British Columbia and is responsible for providing independent public health advice to the Minister of Health, the government and the public; and overseeing the activities of medical health officers. The provincial health officer is required to report publicly on the health of the population through the Minister of Health to the legislature each year, and issues periodic reports on specific issues.

Medical health officers use public and population health knowledge and skills to play leading and collaborative roles in the maintenance and improvement of the health and well-being of their communities. They are responsible, with the public health team, for monitoring, preventing and controlling communicable and chronic diseases, investigating disease outbreaks and hazards to health and coordinating public health responses to health threats. Medical health officers carry out legislated requirements of a number of public health statutes which pertain to communicable disease prevention and control, environmental health, tobacco harm prevention, drinking water protection and community care facility licensing.

Environmental health officers investigate and influence conditions in the natural and built/physical environment that affect human health and wellbeing. They deal with the health impacts of contaminated air, water, land, and food, indoor and outdoor environments, and address biological, physical, chemical and radiological hazards. Environmental health officer’s duties include inspections of and investigating complaints about food establishments, swimming pools, water supplies and sewage disposal systems. They also administer and enforce environmental health legislation related to these matters.

Public health nurses promote and protect the health of populations in communities and specific diverse settings, such as community health centres, schools, street clinics, youth centres and nursing outposts, to meet the health needs of the whole or specific populations. They work with many partners in communities to implement maternal and child health promotion programs, disease and injury prevention programs, school health programs, sexually transmitted infection prevent, treatment, education and outreach, immunization clinics, and communicable disease surveillance and control.