Environmental Public Health Services

environmental-health-services-photo.JPGWhat We Do • En​​​​vironmental Health Officers • Our Areas of Work

​​​​​​​​What W​​​e D​o

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.

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

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.

Public Health Engineering Services

​Public Health Engineers (PHEs) work within our Environmental Public Health Services (EPHS) department at First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). PHEs work closely with Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), with a focus on community infrastructure projects. PHEs often work in the context of interdisciplinary project teams comprising health officers, community leadership, design consultants, provincial and federal agencies, and technical specialists. The role of the PHE is to assess potential health risks in proposed designs and whether the proposed design achieves health protection objectives. PHE reviews do not constitute professional engineering advice and communities should retain the services of a qualified professional to provide design and construction advice.

Services include:

  • Inspect drinking water and wastewater systems.
  • Assists EHOs to interpret drinking water and wastewater quality results.
  • Review design & provide con​sultation for new or upgraded infrastructure from a public health perspective:
      • water infrastructure (wells, intakes, water mains, water treatment plants, reservoirs, ​water treatment equipment, etc.).
      • wastewater infrastructure (septic systems, sanitary sewer mains, lift stations, disposal fields, treatment equipment, outfalls, lagoons, waste water treatment plants, etc.).
      • stormwater infrastructure (sewers, ditches, culverts, ponds).
      • civil servicing for new or upgraded community buildings.
      • recreational facilities such as swimming pools, spray parks or wading pools.
      • subdivision design and community land-use planning.
  • ​Review draft E-ACRS or API inspections with community staff and/or operators.
  • Provide recommendations in terms of infrastructure during the event of emergencies such as floods, forest fires, heat/cold/air quality advisories, chemical spills, storms, contamination of water supplies and sewage failures.

Contact us at phe@fnha.ca​

Public Health Engineering Services Fact Sheet​ (PDF)

Our Areas of Work

Communicable Disease 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.


Drinking Water

Services include:

  • provide training for community-based water monitors to collect and send water samples for testing and, where available, analyze samples using in-community testing equipment 
  • conduct drinking water system inspections and test drinking water for bacteriological, chemical, physical and radiological parameters to meet Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines
  • interpret drinking water quality results
  • provide guidance and recommendations to communities about drinking water safety issues, such as Boil Water advisories, including Do Not Consume and Do Not Use advisories
  • review plans for new or upgraded community water systems
  • provide information and support on safe drinking water practices and risk prevention to Chief and Council and community members
  • investigate waterborne illnesses


Drought Planning and Response

Emergency Preparedness and Response

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.

To receive additional information and tools to help develop your community's comprehensive all-hazards emergency management plan, please email the INAC BC Region's Emergency Management Unit at: BCEMU@aandc-aadnc.gc.ca


Facilities Inspections

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


Health and 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


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


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.​

EPHS Newsletter


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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