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Archived - Speaking Notes for the Honourable Rona Ambrose Minister of Health - Update to Canadians - Ebola

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October 20, 2014
Ottawa, Ontario
Location: Tunney’s Pasture, Brooke Claxton Building

Check Against Delivery

Good morning,

Thank you for joining us today. I am joined by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor, as well as Dr. Judith Bosse, Assistant Deputy Minister at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

As I’ve said before, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented in scale, and our Government remains at the forefront of the international response efforts, taking measures both at home and abroad.

Canada remains vigilant, and is playing a leading role in the global response.

To date, Canada has committed over $65 million dollars to improve treatment and prevention, build health capacity to save lives, and support basics such as nutrition in West Africa.

We have also made available personnel and equipment to those on the front lines in Africa.

This includes things such as:

  • personal protective equipment for the World Health Organization that is crucial to stopping the spread of the disease;
  • two mobile laboratories providing on-the-ground diagnostic support and infection prevention assistance; and
  • today, we began the first shipment of Canada’s experimental vaccine to the World Health Organization

But as the number of cases continues to rise, it is obvious that more needs to be done to combat and contain the disease, and to ensure that Canadians remain well protected here at home.

This morning, I had the pleasures of meeting with Public Health Agency of Canada Employees in Ottawa.

There is a team of highly skilled, dedicated individuals here in Ottawa, Winnipeg and in West Africa, working around the clock to help prevent, detect and ensure we are prepared.

I want to reassure Canadians that the Public Health Agency of Canada is working directly to support the Provinces and Territories who are the lead on any response measures to ensure that Canada remains prepared in the event of an Ebola case in Canada.

Just yesterday, one of our Ebola Rapid Response Teams deployed from Ottawa to Halifax as part of a joint exercise with Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness.

As our provincial and territorial partners continue to ramp up their preparations to deal with a possible Ebola case, it is imperative that they know that federal assistance and expertise will be ready to support them at at a moment's notice.

Yesterday's successful deployment was an important confidence building measure for them and for Canadians. It is a significant step forward in our shared emergency response planning.

The team spent Sunday evening and this morning with provincial and local public health officials at the provincial emergency operations centre.

Together they planned for joint emergency response: hospital isolation, laboratory capacity, biosafety, infection control, epidemiology, ports of entry, and communications.

The information shared at these sessions will greatly assist our efforts to ensure that the federal government is delivering the right support to all provinces and territories at the right time.

If at any point Canada was to confirm a first case of Ebola, one of five available teams would be deployed to support the local health authorities to provide surge capacity, additional resources and expertise to prevent any further spread of the disease.

These teams would be deployed quickly using one of the four Transport Canada planes that have been stationed in Winnipeg and Ottawa.

Drills, dry runs, and practicing are important to ensuring that our teams are able to respond without hesitation in the event of a case of Ebola. I am confident that all Health Ministers across Canada are committed to preparedness and protecting Canadians.

In Canada, we are extremely fortunate to have some of the best hospitals in the world.

Canada’s experience in dealing with SARS, H1N1 and H5N1 has made us a world leader in infectious disease outbreaks, however, we can always improve our system and protocols to further protect Canadians.

By working together to prepare here at home, and making a strong contribution to international efforts abroad, we will continue to do everything possible to fight this disease and protect Canadians.

I will now turn it over to Dr. Taylor.

Thank you.

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