ARCHIVED - Key Messages

In 2003, the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) won the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The government of the day made the achievement a window of opportunity to establish a health promotion legacy for the people in the province. To this end, it launched ActNowBC in 2005, a bold intersectoral initiative that integrates the actions of the whole-of-government with those of civil society to achieve five health promotion targets by 2010, intending to make BC the healthiest jurisdiction to ever host the Games.

While it is too soon to predict if ActNowBC will deliver a health legacy beyond the 2010 Games, the added impetus of ActNowBC has created new health promotion programming and has propelled many existing activities to a stronger level of engagement. ActNowBC has also served to expand and enhance elements of an holistic strategy that aims to improve health equity in Aboriginal communities throughout the province.

To date, the initiative can be credited with changing the way the provincial government and all health promotion stakeholders are doing business in BC. In this regard, our case study contributes to the ActNowBC performance story, highlighting the importance of 1) using diverse strategies and mechanisms to foster collaboration in government and 2) developing strong partnerships with organizations within civil society.

Two factors appear to have been integral to the success of ActNowBC and are highlighted throughout this document:

High-level leadership: The BC Premier’s steady commitment to ActNowBC is key to why the initiative has remained high on the agendas of all Ministers, Deputies and Assistant Deputy Ministers since 2005. At the same time, senior civil servants have been resilient (or at least more cautious) in mobilizing awareness and operationalizing intersectoral coordination.

Balancing planning and action: The BC government has demonstrated an ability to “sail the ship while you build it”, moving ahead with a whole-of-government initiative even though not all the elements nor ideal conditions are in place. Similarly, civil society leaders have forged ahead with several programs, overcoming the challenges associated with simultaneously developing new partnerships among their respective organizations and with the ministries overseeing the implementation of ActNowBC.

We believe that the integrating mechanisms and strategies initiated and adopted so far as part of ActNowBC are “promising best practices” that can inform other jurisdictions in the development of similar horizontally and vertically integrated initiatives.

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