Statement from the Minister of Health on Ebola

Ottawa, ON – The Public Health Agency of Canada is meeting with provinces and territories on a weekly basis to support their readiness. In the event of an Ebola case in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada is ready to respond with a team of public health experts and epidemiologists experienced in infectious disease outbreak management to support the investigation and contact tracing, provide laboratory expertise to quickly confirm diagnosis, and any supplies that may be needed from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile System, such as masks, gloves, and face shields.

We have also provided guidance and protocols for all necessary training for frontline healthcare workers.

Our experience in dealing with public health issues, including SARS, H1N1 and H5N1, has strengthened Canada’s preparedness for public health risks or outbreaks.

Earlier today, I spoke with Linda Silas from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Anne Sutherland Boal from the Canadian Nurses Association. The nurses and all frontline healthcare workers have our full support and I thank them for their dedication and commitment to protecting Canadians. It is imperative that all frontline healthcare workers have guidance and information to deal with Ebola. They are the first line of defence against infectious diseases and they must be fully included in all communications.

To ensure that is occurring consistently across the country, I also convened a call with Provincial and Territorial Health Ministers to further discuss their level of Ebola preparedness and ensure provinces and territories are providing all the necessary training to all frontline healthcare workers. On this call I encouraged all provinces and territories to look into doing tests runs to ensure protocols are in place, and proper personal protective gear is available.

I am confident that all Health Ministers are committed to preparedness and protecting Canadians and all frontline health workers.

I want to remind Canadians there are no direct flights into Canada from the affected countries in Africa. All international points of entry into Canada are routinely monitored 24/7. As an added precaution, our Government has further strengthened border measures to help prevent the unlikely importation of Ebola into the country. Effective last Friday, all travellers identified as having arrived in Canada from an affected West African country will now be referred to a Public Health Agency of Canada Quarantine Officer for a mandatory health assessment. Quarantine Officers have the necessary training and equipment to conduct a health assessment, including checking for fever, and determine whether additional public health measures are required.

Through our National Microbiology Laboratory we are extremely well connected with provincial labs to ensure Canada is ready to detect and respond quickly if necessary. This means that in the chance there are suspected cases, we can quickly test and take appropriate action.

In Canada we are extremely fortunate that we have some of the best hospitals in world. This includes the care for infectious diseases, as well as strong infection control systems in place to protect against the spread of disease.

The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Gregory Taylor, has been in regular contact with the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health across the country to discuss the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Yesterday, following a productive discussion, all Public Health Officers in Canada agreed to look into further strengthening our protocols.

We stand ready to continue to support provinces and territories with any guidance necessary in their front line work.

Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health