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Environmental Health Services were provided in all the parameters of Public Health to all communities and urban facilities. A team of three Environmental Health Officers, a supervisor and an Administrative Assistant were directly responsible in maintaining and delivering the program. Adhering to the requirements of Health Canada, we provided programs in water quality, food hygiene, housing and communi­cable disease investigation. As well, our team responded to various requests by Chiefs, Health Directors, Home Care nurses, Community Health representatives and residents.

Environmental Public Health Overview

Conditions in the environment, both natural and human-built, can affect a person’s ability to achieve and maintain good health. A healthy environment includes safe water and food supplies, properly designed, constructed and maintained housing and community facilities, as well as suitable treatment and disposal of wastewater and solid waste. To maintain a healthy environment, it is also necessary to plan for and respond to emergencies and work to prevent and control communicable diseases.

Environmental Public Health in First Nations Communities

The Environmental Public Health Program works to identify and prevents environmental public health risks that could adversely impact the health of community residents. The program also includes recommending corrective action to reduce these risks.

There are nine areas covered under the EH Program as follows: Drinking Water Safety, Food Safety, Healthy Housing, Wastewater Management, Solid Waste Disposal, Facilities Inspections, Communicable Disease Control, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Environmental Contaminants, Research and Risk Assessment.

Role of the Environmental Health Officer

There are four PAGC EHOs that provide environmental public health services to communities under PAGC, Lac La Ronge and PBCN communities. Each PAGC EHO provides public health services to a number of designated communities.

In general, PAGC EHOs provide advice, guidance, education, public health inspections and recommendations to each First Nation Community and their Chief and Council to help them manage public health risks associated with the environment. The EHO gathers data required to analyze what steps can be taken to promote public health in each of their First Nation community.

PAGC EHOs visit First Nation communities to perform inspections, investigations and provide education and training sessions. Routine activities are provided as per community workplans that are agreed upon by the Environmental Health Officer and Chiefs and Councils. Other activities are completed as required, upon request of Chief and Council.

PAGC EHOs identify potential public health risks in each of their First Nation communities and provide recommendations on how to correct them. Chief and Councils are responsible for addressing the recommendations provided.

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Activities

Environmental Health Assessment:

  • Monitors the drinking water supply on a weekly, quarterly and annual basis to verify bacteriological and chemical water quality.
  • Reviews and interprets drinking water quality results as per Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ).
  • Provids advice, guidance and recommendations to Chief and Council about drinking water safety issues.
  • Investigats suspected problems with drinking water supply
  • Reviews plans for new or upgraded community water systems

Public Education

Educates community members and Chief and Council about safe drinking water and risk prevention.

Training

Provides training, orientation and refreshers to community based water quality monitors as required or upon request.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Inspects public food service facilities and community gatherings.
  • Reviews plans for new or upgraded food service facilities.
  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations about public health issues related to food safety.
  • Notifies community residents of food recalls and alerts.

Public Education

Educates community residents about food safety including sources, storage, preparation, handling and distribution of traditional and conventional foods in food facilities and at home.

Training

Deliver safe food handler training sessions to food service workers and volunteers at community gatherings.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Inspects on-reserve public/social housing upon request. Inspections include evaluation of indoor air quality, contaminants, pest control, water supply, solid and liquid waste disposal, general safety, structural defects and overcrowding.

Public Education

Educates home owner about how to maintain a safe and healthy home.

Training

Provides training sessions on public health issues related to housing upon request.i.e. mould and housing.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Inspects installations of new and expanded on-site sewage disposal systems.
  • Respond to complaints and provides inspections of existing on-site sewage disposal systems.
  • Reviews plans for new and upgraded on-site sewage disposal systems.
  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations and information on decommissioning of on-site sewage disposal systems.
  • Inspects wastewater treatment plants for public health concerns.
  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations.
  • Reviews plans for new and upgraded waste water treatment plants.

Public Education

Educates homeowners on how to properly maintain on-site sewage disposal system and reduce risk related to sewage discharge.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Inspects disposal sites and transfer stations to evaluate method of solid waste collection, site operation, waste containment, types of waste disposed, pest control, soil conditions, ground water conditions and leachate analysis.
  • Reviews plans for new or upgraded solid waste disposal sites.
  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations about public health issues related to waste disposal.
  • Reviews plans and provide recommendations for safe decommissioning of disposal sites.

Public Education

Educates about public health aspects of solid waste disposal. Provide information/referrals related to recycling programs, disposal of hazardous waste (e.g., batteries, paints), and safe collection and storage of waste.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Inspects health, community care, recreational, general and temporary special event facilities. The scope of inspections includes general sanitation, general structure, safety conditions, food safety practices, water quality, sewage and solid waste disposal, pest control, crowding and air quality.
  • Reviews plans for new or renovated facilities.
  • Provides information on decommissioning/renovation hazards that could have adverse health impacts.
  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations pertaining to public health.

Public Education

Deliver sessions relating to public health and safety within facilities.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Undertakes surveillance activities and addresses cases of communicable diseases.
  • Works with Chief and Council and other public health staff to address suspected or confirmed cases of environmental health communicable diseases i.e. those that are foodborne or waterborne (e.g., E. coli) or vectorborne (e.g., West Nile Virus). The EHO aids in investigation, source identification, sampling and monitoring upon request.
  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations about public health issues related to communicable disease control.

Public Education

Educates the public to raise awareness about environmental health issues related to communicable disease control.

Training

Provides training to health and First Nations workers about the environmental public health component of communicable disease control.

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment:

  • Provides advice, guidance and recommendations about environmental public health issues related to emergency preparedness and response.
  • Participates in development of Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.

In the event of emergency:

  • Assesses emergency location (shelter) and advises emergency response team of how to reduce environmental public health risks
  • Provides inspections of temporary accommodations, residential and public buildings, drinking water, food service, solid waste and wastewater disposal systems.
  • Provides food handler training, drinking water sampling and other emergency environmental public health services as required.

Public Education

Provides information on environmental public health as it related to emergency preparedness and response.

Research

  • Assists communities to formulate research questions in response to concerns expressed by community.
  • Assists communities to develop linkages with academic and research institutions to develop research project proposals.
  • Encourages communities to submit proposals for funding to the National or Regional First Nations Environmental Contaminants Programs.
  • Provides advice concerning research projects

Activities

Environmental Public Health Assessment

  • Works with Chief and Council, public health staff and residents to address suspected or confirmed public health risks associated with environmental contaminants.
  • Assists communities in interpreting research results.

Public Education

Educates Chiefs, Council and community residents about environmental contaminants.

Activities

The PAGC EH Program is in charge of overseeing the implementation of the OH&S program on PAGC campus.

Training

WHMIS training sessions are provided to maintenance, janitorial or other staff at health centres, day cares, schools and other facilities upon request.

Training

TDG training is provided to maintenance and janitorial staff at health centres upon request.