Public Health Act

A new Public Health Act has been created to assist in the establishment of conditions which help to improve the health and well-being of the public. This new Act combines, updates, and replaces key provisions of the Health Act, the Venereal Diseases Act and the Public Toilet Act.

The Public Health Act provides the Minister, public health officials, regional health authorities, local governments, and others with the following important tools for increasing effectiveness and efficiency of public health services:

  • Creating a modern legislative framework that clearly establishes the powers, duties and function of the Minister and public health officials for public health monitoring and surveillance, communicable disease control, environmental health hazard response, chronic disease and injury prevention, and public health emergency response;
  • Providing a legislative framework to regulate operations, activities or conditions that could pose a health hazard or a threat to long-term population health;
  • Strengthening relationships and clarifying the responsibilities for local governments regarding public health;
  • Enabling the minister to require specific plans to address public health issues;
  • Updating other aspects of the current Health Act, such as inspection powers, powers to issue orders, quarantine and isolation provisions, and ensuring administrative fairness;
  • Supporting the roles of the Provincial Health Officer and medical health officers to protect and improve population health;
  • Enhancing public health information collection and analysis abilities;
  • Broadening regulation making abilities to regulate health hazards and health impediments; and
  • Providing a new administrative penalty scheme and guidance to the courts on sentencing.

Provincial Health Officer: Powers & Duties 

As the senior public health official for British Columbia, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO):

  • Provides independent advice to the Ministers and public officials on public health issues;
  • Monitors the health of the population of British Columbia and advises, in an independent manner, the Ministers and public officials on public health issues and on the need for public health related legislation, policies and practices;
  • Delivers reports that are in the public interest and annual reports on the health of the population and government’s progress in achieving population health targets; and
  • Establishes standards of practice for, and conducts performance reviews of medical health officers.

Medical Health Officers: Powers & Duties 

The powers and duties of medical health officers (MHOs) are consistent with those of the PHO, such as:

  • Providing independent advice to health authorities and local governments about public health issues, and releasing public reports; and
  • Consulting with the PHO and local governments or health authorities affected by a public report to ensure careful consideration of report implications and notice to affected parties is provided.

Learn More

For more information on the Public Health Act, visit the following websites: