Bell, Liberal MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, said in a statement Sunday that a heart aneurysm discovered during a medical exam led to a decision not to stand for re-election.
The anomaly was found last fall on an x-ray taken by his doctor, who was looking for signs of pneumonia, Bell said.
"I feel very fortunate that this was picked up because this type of aneurism is rarely detected.
“At this point, I am seeing a cardiac specialist and we are monitoring the size of the aneurism. If it grows I will require surgical intervention. If not, I may require just an ongoing monitoring program.”
Bell was first elected in the 2001 Liberal sweep of the province when the party was led by Gordon Campbell.
“This is not the way I had planned to exit politics but my time has come. Others will step forward in the coming days to take on the task at hand and they will have my full support,” Bell said.
Premier Christy Clark issued a statement Sunday in response to Bell’s announcement, singing the minister’s praises.
“For 12 years, Pat Bell has worked hard to create a better, more prosperous British Columbia and now it's time for him to take care of himself and his family,” Clark said.