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SPEAK: Have You Shared Your Two Cents?

Government Health Agency Seeks Public Input on Priorities

The latest iteration of the provincial Public Health survey, known as SPEAK (Survey on Population Experiences, Action and Knowledge) launched in April with the goal of learning what members of the public see as priorities for health and wellness in post-Covid British Columbia.


Deana Lancaster, Public Health Communications Leader with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), is particularly interested in hearing from small communities such as Lions Bay before the end of the month.


"It's especially important that we hear from smaller and more remote communities where access to health services can be challenging," says Lancaster.


The survey is open to all British Columbians 18 years of age and older, takes approximately 20 minutes, and can be done online on any tablet, computer, or mobile device. It's available online in English, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.


This third round of the survey has a different focus than earlier versions. Lancaster notes that for the VCH team, deciding what action to take is a risk/benefit analysis. "When the virus first hit, we were closing things down and encouraging people to stay in their bubble. Those choices were made because the novel corona-virus was deadly, and at that point we had no effective treatments or vaccines."


She notes that VCH is anxious to address some of the negative fall-out that resulted from the shut downs. "In public health, we care about all aspects of your life. Having regular employment, getting out and engaging in social activities are also important to your health. Covid will likely always be with us, but it has changed. It's definitely more infectious but it's also less deadly."


Lancaster says the first two rounds of the survey were focused on the pandemic and the virus. (Results of these surveys can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control dashboard HERE.) However, she notes that this third round is looking at a variety of non-pandemic elements, such as the mental health of adults, teens and children, and the impacts of climate-related events like the recent heat domes.


"We want to know what's important to you," she says. "What support do you need now?"


Incentives Offered to Participants


When the virus first hit, the participation rate for VCH's earlier surveys was high, however Lancaster notes that's no longer the case. "That first round, when everyone was at home, with Dr. Henry briefing them every day, we had more than 400,000 British Columbians take part. In 2021, for round two, about half that number participated. But with this latest round, the numbers have really dropped off."


She says this might be good news, in that people are busy getting back to regular life, but that the results from the survey are still important. "The data we collect helps us make policy decisions. The data is anonymous, so we can share it with our partners in government, and with school districts to help them prioritize their own spending, too."


To encourage participation, VCH is holding a draw for Apple AirPods and gift cards for Best Buy, Save On Foods, London Drugs and Apple iTunes. Rules and regulations for the draw can be found along with the survey HERE.


July 31 is the final date the survey will be available to be completed online.


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