Environmental Public Health Services

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What We Do • Program Objectives and Components • Our Work • Environmental Health Officers


What W​​​e Do

For First Nations, the environment is vital in determining health and well-being. Our environment includes the land, air, water, food, housing and other resources that need to be cared for and considered to sustain healthy children, families and communities.

The FNHA's Environmental Public Health Services (EPHS) Team works in partnership with First Nations communities to identify and prevent environmental public health risks in First Nations communities that could impact the health of community members.

Where public health risks are identified, recommendations are provided to reduce these risks. Through community training, education and awareness, community capacity is increased to achieve a healthy and safe environment. EPHS aims to reach an equivalent or better standard of environmental health as non-First Nations communities. The FNHA EPHS Team provides services to all First Nations communities in the province of BC.

Program Ob​​jectives and Components

For a complete description of program objectives and components, see Environmental Public Health Overview in the FNHA Programs and Services Guide.

Our Wo​​rk

FNHA Environmental Health includes work in these areas:

 The booklet Environmental Public Health Services provides a full outline of the FNHA's work in the area of Environmental Health.

Communica​​ble Di​​sease Control

Services include:

health surveillance, investigation and education, to address foodborne, waterborne and vector-borne (infections transmitted by species such as mosquitoes, ticks and blackflies) diseases

EHOs work closely with health professionals in communities and regional health authorities to provide a coordinated response to illnesses and outbreaks.

Resources

BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/

Drinking Wa​ter S​​afety

Drought Plannin​​​g​​ and Response

Emergency P​​​reparedness and Response Planning

Services include:

  • guidance in the development of emergency response plans to ensure that public health and safety is maintained should an emergency occur
  • during an emergency, public health inspections for temporary accommodations, residential and public buildings, drinking water, food services, solid waste and wastewater disposal systems
  • EHOs work closely with the community and emergency operations centres to assist in identifying and controlling public health risks during an emergency situation and after the emergency has ended.

Resources:

Enviro​nmental Contaminants, Research and Risk Assessment

This program funds research projects that explore the link between human health and chemical environmental contaminants.

The program helps communities address their environmental health concerns and enables research at the community level; it encourages the integration of Indigenous ways of knowing, Traditional Knowledge and empirical science.

Where suspected or confirmed risks from contaminants exist, assistance is available to interpret research results and provide recommendations to control exposure.

FNHA Environment Contaminants Health Program: Guidelines for Proposals – A guide for health professionals

First Nations Food, Nutrient and Environment Study

Facilities Insp​ections

Services include:

  • inspection of facilities for general sanitation, general structure, safety conditions, food safety practices, water quality, sewage and solid waste disposal, pest control, crowding, and air quality
  • education and awareness for facility operators, community members and leadership to promote health and safety at facilities
  • Community care facilities that require provincial licensing should also contact the appropriate regional health authority licensing office.

Food Safety

Services include:

  • inspections of all food facilities to verify safe handling of foods
  • FOODSAFE® training program for food handlers
  • education on safe handling and preparation of traditional and conventional foods
  • notifications of food recalls and alerts
  • investigations when foodborne illness is suspected or confirmed

Resources:

Health​​y Housing

Services include:

  • public health inspections of housing, provided on request
  • work with First Nation housing departments, INAC and CMHC to help address public health issues in housing
  • education on how to maintain a safe and healthy home

Resources:

Solid Waste ​​Disposal

Services include:

  • assessment of and recommendations for waste disposal sites and transfer stations to reduce or prevent risks
  • public education to create awareness of proper disposal and protection of health and the environment.
  • EHOs work closely with First Nations, INAC and other agencies to address waste disposal issues in communities

Wast​ewater

Services include:

  • assessment of new installations and repairs to malfunctioning systems for proper design and treatment
  • ensuring on-site sewage systems conform to the BC Sewerage System Standard Practice Manual; design and installation documents are submitted to the local EPHS office
  • conducting inspections when there are public health concerns

On-site wastewater systems constructed on-reserve should be installed based on the current provincial BC Sewerage Standard Practice Manual. Please contact an EHO for applicable forms and submission process.

Environmental H​​​​ealth Officers

Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) provide advice, education, inspections and recommendations to First Nations and their leadership to help them manage public health risks associated with the environment. They collect data and observations to determine whether a public health risk exists, and determine what steps can be taken to improve conditions. Chief and Council are responsible for addressing the recommendations provided.

All EHOs working in First Nations communities are certified by Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors , a minimum requirement in British Columbia.

If you are interested in becoming an Environmental Health Officer, contact your local Environmental Health Officer to talk with them about the work. The Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) maintains a list of schools across Canada that offer special training.

 Contact

Environmental Health Team

Email: environmental.health@fnha.ca

Emergencies Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Call your local Environmental Health Officer

Emergencies after hours

Phone: 1-844-666-0711
Email: ephs.afterhours@fnha.ca

Calls or emails received after 10:00 p.m. will be responded to the following day at 6:00 a.m.​​​​

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