Category Archives: Canada

Saskatchewan | Wildfire update – July 2 2015 at 11:30 am

Travel not recommended in many northern areas; fire ban in place for all of northern Saskatchewan; fireworks prohibited.

Due to extreme wildfire hazards in northern Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Environment continues to recommend no non-essential travel to areas affected by wildfires, in particular the La Ronge, La Loche and Pinehouse areas.

Communities Affected by Wildfires

  • There is no immediate threat to the Town of La Ronge.
  • Montreal Lake, Timber Bay, Weyakwin/Ramsey Bay, East Trout Lake, Lamp Lake, Wadin Bay, Sucker River, English Bay, Nemeiben sub-division, Grandmother’s Bay, Lac La Ronge Provincial Park, Missinipe, La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation are under evacuation, with other communities evacuating individuals with health issues related to smoke.
  • All wildfires in the full response community zone (within 20 km of a community) are being actioned with all available resources.
  • In the La Loche area, three wildfires are in the full response area and have been actioned since they were reported; the Clay and Mack fires were reported on June 26 and the David Fire was reported on May 19.
  • Smoky conditions continue to make fire suppression efforts difficult, particularly for aircraft, but smoke is moderating in some areas.
  • Highway access in wildfire areas may change rapidly. For information about highway and road closures, please visit the Highway Hotline at

Daily Wildfire Report

Fire Ban in Provincial Forests and Parks

Smoke, Air Quality and Health

  • Smoke continues to be an issue for many communities in the north. Communities such as Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina and Swift Current are continuing to show improvement as smoke dissipates.
  • Based on current forecasts, the smoke should move into Manitoba over the next several days.
  • provides current information on wildfire smoke.
  • For information on air quality and related health matters, please see the provincial air quality index or visit Environment Canada’s alerts, and visit the Lung Association for information on forest fires and lung health.

If you have additional questions that are not answered here, please contact the ministry’s Client Service Office at 1-800-567-4224.

Saskatchewan | City of Regina accommodating evacuees displaced by northern wildfires

The Henk Ruys Soccer Centre and SaskTel Sports Centre have been designated as an Emergency Evacuation sites to shelter evacuees from northern Saskatchewan who have been displaced by the wildfires.

The City of Saskatoon is trying to make evacuees as comfortable as possible. We anticipate events such as this during forest fire season and for many years we have kept evacuations at the forefront of our emergency planning. Volunteers are coordinated through the Canadian Red Cross and are not currently required at the emergency evacuation sites.

However, those interested in learning more about volunteering with the Red Cross may contact the local office at 306-668-0720 or visit

Although appreciated, we are unable to accept donations at Henk Ruys Soccer Centre or the Sasktel Sports Centre.

Canada | Outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador with cases of human illness linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products. The risk to Canadians is low, and illnesses can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation and cooking practices are followed when preparing these types of food products.

Currently there are 44 cases of Salmonella illness in four provinces: Ontario (28), Quebec (12), Nova Scotia (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (2). Twelve people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals became sick between February 7 and May 23, 2015. Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to frozen raw breaded chicken products has emerged as a source of illness.

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are more fragile than healthy individuals.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.

If you are preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products there are precautions you should take to protect your health.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling raw poultry products.
  • Use a separate plate, cutting board, and utensils when handling raw poultry products to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
  • Frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but some contain raw chicken and should be handled and prepared no differently than raw poultry products.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked poultry products. Cook all frozen, stuffed, breaded or raw poultry products to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat. Whole poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).
  • Due to uneven heating, microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded poultry products including chicken nuggets, strips or burgers is not recommended. Always follow package cooking instructions, including products labelled Uncooked, Cook and Serve, Ready to Cook, and Oven Ready.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal or contaminated product.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

These symptoms usually last four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. In some cases severe illness and hospitalization may occur. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care providers if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

Yukon | Health effects from forest fire smoke

As smoke from several wildfires in Yukon has penetrated most Yukon communities, Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, would like to remind Yukoners with asthma or lung or heart conditions to take special care to protect themselves from the hazards of smoke exposure.

Smoke from forest fires can provoke minor symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy eyes, irritated throat and sinuses, headaches or coughing. Individuals with asthma or chronic conditions can have more serious reactions. Infants and the elderly are also more sensitive to the effects of smoke.

“Smoke can worsen a breathing condition,” Hanley says. “Stay inside with the windows closed when heavy smoke is present. Try to limit your physical activities and make sure you have your medications on hand. This is also a really good time to make an action plan with your family physician or community nurse, which would include when to increase or add to medications, and when to seek medical care.

People with allergies or sensitivity to smoke should also stay indoors and limit exertion.

Most Yukoners will experience minimal effects from breathing in the smoke. Anyone with concerns can call the Yukon Health Line at 811, or contact their health care provider or community health centre.

Manitoba #MB | Province introduces groundbreaking presumptive #PTSD legislation

The Manitoba government is introducing amendments to the Workers Compensation Act that would recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a work-related occupational disease, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“This legislation would be unique in Canada and would truly support workers who experience a traumatic event or events in the workplace that lead to PTSD,” said Premier Selinger.  “Under this new law, the Workers Compensation Board would presume their condition was caused by the job, making it much easier to access supports, treatment and compensation.”

The premier noted this proposed change was inspired by the work of Manitoba nurses, firefighters, first responders and the Manitoba Government Employees Union who led the charge with public campaigns, recognizing the affects workplace trauma can have on their members.

“We represent a broad cross section of workers in different occupations and as such we have learned that psychological injuries can happen to absolutely anyone regardless of what they do for a living,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union.  “This legislation would make it easier for workers to get the treatment they need more quickly.”

This new bill would extend coverage and benefits to all workers eligible under WCB who are diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional.  This would ensure timely access to compensation and support services, with the long-term goal of reducing the stigma attached to mental illness, the premier said.

“Firefighters and first responders face challenges every time they answer a call,” said Alex Forrest, president, United Firefighters of Winnipeg.  “Presumptive legislation of this kind protects front-line workers like us and it’s been a pleasure working with the Manitoba government to make this happen.”

“Being on the front line when tragedies happen can leave you with experiences you’ll never forget,” said Sandi Mowat, president, Manitoba Nurses Union.  “PTSD is a condition many of our members experience, due to the fact that nurses face cumulative exposure to primary, secondary and vicarious trauma over prolonged periods of time and this legislation would help those having to manage with this diagnoses.”

“PTSD is a real threat to working people.  Any improvements in their access to support is welcome news,” said Kevin Rebeck, president, Manitoba Federation of Labour.  “It comes as no surprise to me that Manitoba is the first jurisdiction to put this level of protection into legislation.”

Manitoba’s Five-Year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Preventionlaunched in 2013 includes mental health as one of its 10 action areas.  The plan commits Manitoba to improving supports, resources and coverage for workers who routinely face traumatic events as part of their work in an effort to reduce work-related PTSD.

Saskatchewan #SK | #Paramedics answering the call for care not new in some smaller communities – #CommunityParamedicine

You need help, so you call for an ambulance – not to get you to the hospital, but so the paramedics can deliver the care you need.

This innovative concept is called Community Paramedicine and has recently been introduced to Saskatoon. But it’s not a new concept for some of Saskatoon Health Region’s rural communities, who have been  partnering with local emergency services to support communities in health promotion and treatment for a few years now.

Community Paramedicine enables EMS professionals to use their full scope of practice, focus on community prevention and wellness, and work collaboratively with healthcare professionals and community leaders to assist in the delivery of care in a variety of areas,” explains Sherri Solar, Manager for Pre-hospital Emergency Medical Services for Saskatoon Health Region. “It’s a concept that our smaller communities in the Region have utilized and valued.”

Specifically, five communities have partnered with local EMS personnel: Watrous and District Ambulance Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Watrous; Shamrock Ambulance Care in Wadena; Rosthern and District Ambulance EMS in Rosthern; in Wynyard, Midway Ambulance Care; and in Wakaw, Wakaw and District EMS Ltd.

“Instead of waiting for the emergency to happen, we should be preventing it, which could ultimately save a life.  Home visits, Wellness Clinics, and educating the public are going to do just that for our community,” says Richelle Suter, a paramedic with Wakaw and District EMS Ltd.

Wonder what community paramedicine looks like? Here is a quick video showing it in action in Wakaw.

The scope of service provided by paramedics varies slightly, depending on the communities’ needs.

But in many instances, paramedics are working with home care in the areas of fall prevention programming, assessments, palliative care support, lift and transfer assistance, medication assistance, home safety checks, and Wellness Clinic support by taking a client’s blood pressure, blood glucose, pulse, compression stocking removal, oxygen levels and temperature checks, as needed.

For many of the paramedics involved in this work, the service allows them to provide care for those in need beyond emergency situations.

“I enjoy doing lift assists because it gives me an opportunity to do what I got into this business to do – help people,” says Stephan Koroluk, a primary care paramedic with Midway Ambulance Care in Wynyard.  “But it’s more than just helping. It’s about spending time and getting to know our clients. Being able to stay and chat with the family afterwards is great and our EMS team is treated just like family whenever we’re there making it always an enjoyable experience.”

Koroluk adds paramedics also get to learn and better understand other aspects of health care and what other care providers do day to day, including home care worker, and advance their own skills.

“Doing lifts also helps me keep up with lifting techniques,” he says. “This work allows me to go out and help people in their day-to-day lives in a way that is different from the emergency aspect of the job and helps me feel like an important part of the community.”

That feeling of community also helps better assist emergency teams in times of crisis.

“By getting more involved with the community, the people we serve get to know us and trust us better and are able to communicate with us more freely when they are in a time of need,” says Doug Penner, a paramedic with Wakaw and District EMS Ltd. “Paramedics have always tried to do projects in the community to make ourselves seen and known by the people we serve.”

These are sentiments echoed by paramedics in other communities, including Gabrielle Sackville who works with the Karakochuck family in Wynyard. Over the past year, Adolph Karakochuk has been losing his independent mobility, and was becoming too heavy for his family alone to care for. After two falls, the family decided they needed to bring in home care to help with his personal care. In December, home care decided that two people were needed to lift him, and community paramedics were called on to help with lifts and transfers in his home.

The Karakochuk family is happy with the partnership between Home Care and Midway Ambulance that allows for their loved one to remain at home. Back, from left: Paramedic Stephen Koroluk, Continuing Care assistant Melody Stefanson, Judy Karakochuk. Front: Adolph and Margret Karakochuk.
The Karakochuk family is happy with the partnership between Home Care and Midway Ambulance that allows for their loved one to remain at home. Back, from left: Paramedic Stephen Koroluk, Continuing Care assistant Melody Stefanson, Judy Karakochuk. Front: Adolph and Margret Karakochuk.

Keeping Adolph at home with his family would not have been possible without the help of the paramedics, the family has stated.

“We could not do this on our own and he does not want to be in long-term care,” said the family.

“It has made a huge difference” says daughter Judy. “It has made the family life easier, as they know that there are trained capable people there to provide the service for our dad. We would recommend and suggest this partnership with home care and the paramedics to anyone.”

This service, they added, shows the community a different side to the paramedics.

“There are here for us even when it is not an emergency,” the family said. “Now they know us, they know are family.”

“Being part of Wynyard’s community paramedicine project has given me a better appreciation for different parts of health care and strengthened my own skills as a paramedic,” explained Sackville. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know the Karakochuk family very much. Not a day has gone by that they haven’t expressed their sincerest appreciation for what we do.”

“There are STARS in the air, but these paramedics are the stars of our town,” said Margret Karakochuk.

British Columbia #BC | North #Vancouver #paramedics celebrate #ambulance station opening

North Vancouver paramedics and community members celebrated the opening of the new  BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) ambulance station today at the HOpe Centre at Lions Gate Hospital and honoured their former paramedic unit chief Tim Jones.
“This new space is a testament to the valuable role paramedics play in providing patient care and pays tribute to the legacy of inspiration Tim Jones provided to his fellow paramedics,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.

The purpose-built station is approximately 8,866 sq. ft. (824 sq. m) and includes covered ambulance bays. The new facility also has more storage space and expanded crew quarters so paramedics can review training materials and do paperwork between calls.

“Our paramedics are valued, and we feel proud to be able to support them through investments like this new ambulance station,” said Naomi Yamamoto, North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA. “I’m glad we are able to provide comfort and security for paramedics, as they help the people of British Columbia on the front-line, every day.”

“For those rare moments when paramedics aren’t responding to medical emergencies, a comfortable place to recharge is important for their well-being,” said PHSA/BCEHS Executive Vice President, Linda Lupini. “This new facility will help paramedics and benefit the communities they serve.”

“I noticed almost right away our paramedics were holding their heads a bit higher, taking that extra bit of care to ensure the station remains in pristine condition,” said BCEHS North Vancouver Unit Chief Jade Munro. “Last year was very difficult for our community and our paramedics with the passing of Unit Chief Tim Jones. This new station feels like a new beginning and I know Tim would want that for us.”

Unit Chief Tim Jones passed away in January 2014, but his presence remains throughout the new station with a memory wall in the station filled with photos of him with his BCEHS colleagues.

“Tim was a close friend of mine for over 30 years and I had the privilege of training with him as a paramedic here in North Vancouver,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “Tim was a valued member of this station, and it is great to see his memory live on here.”

In 2014/15 paramedics responded to over 9,500 9-1-1 calls and completed 1,713 patient transfers in North Vancouver.  ​


British Columbia #BC | #Community #paramedicine program launches in Northern BC

Chetwynd, Fort St. James and Hazelton are the first communities in BC to welcome the community paramedicine program being introduced by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).
Under the program, paramedics will provide primary care services (within their scope of practice) to increase access to basic health care services in non-urgent settings, in partnership with local health care providers. The enhanced role is not intended to replace any care provided by health professionals, like nurses, but rather, complements and supports the work that these important professionals do each day.

BCEHS has been coordinating the implementation of community paramedicine in BC with the Ministry of Health, the province’s health authorities, and the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873).

“By phasing in community paramedicine, we are developing an integrated approach to patient care to best suit the unique needs of each community population,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “We know that health-care providers in rural and remote areas may face challenges and we value their guidance in how we can best engage local paramedics to address gaps in service.”

Interior communities will be announced in June 2015, followed by Vancouver Island communities in late summer. This gradual start allows BCEHS to focus on one health authority at a time, and to develop the contacts needed in each community to ensure community paramedics will be well-integrated members of the established health-care teams.

“BC’s paramedics are highly trained medical professionals, who are well suited for this new role in community health,” said Bronwyn Barter, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873). “With the community paramedicine program will come better patient care and new full-time career opportunities across the province.”

In Phase One, BCEHS paramedic unit chiefs will help confirm the specific services required in the community, for which community paramedics, given their training, are able to provide.

It is expected that community paramedics will be delivering community health services in the initial communities in the fall of 2015. Phase Two, which will build on the “lessons learned” in Phase One, is projected to begin by January 2016.

Phase Three, which will see a continued expansion into additional communities and explore the integration of community paramedics into clinics and facilities, is scheduled for 2017.

“BCEHS is continually striving to find new and better ways to provide patient care and to strengthen its ability to respond to medical emergencies,” said BCEHS Chief Operating Officer Jodi Jensen. “Enhancing the talents and skills of paramedics in a community-based setting will help keep paramedics engaged in remote communities that have low call volumes.”

The Province of British Columbia and BCEHS have committed to creating at least 80 new full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) to support the implementation of community paramedicine programs over the next four years.

Today’s announcement aligns with the recently released “Rural Health Services in BC: A policy framework to provide a system of quality care,” which was created as a planning document to identify common concerns and policy directions, which will be joined together into a rural health strategy. This strategy will help guide the future of rural health care for British Columbians.​


Quebec #QC | #Montreal – Two deliveries in less than a week for #SIM firefighter/first responders


In mid-May, the first-response firefighters (FR) from Station 41, Group 3, received a first-response call. En route, the team members learned that the woman they had been called to assist was about to give birth.

They were the first to arrive on the scene. The woman’s husband greeted them at the apartment door. She was in the living room, having strong contractions very close together.

Mélanie Drainville and fellow firefighter Philippe Bergeron asked the woman to lie down so that they could examine her. They found that her labour was very far advanced and the baby was about to be born.

Just then, the Urgences-santé (US) ambulance technicians arrived. The SIM team was relieved, but stayed in position, ready to help, given that the baby’s head was engaged. With everyone’s support, the woman delivered a son.

“Together with the US technicians, we clamped the cord and the father cut it himself. Everything went very well – it was a really beautiful experience, with terrific teamwork between the paramedics and the firefighters,” Drainville says.

Congratulations to Lieutenant Daniel Martin (41-3), to firefighter eligible for the rank of lieutenant Mélanie Drainville (41-3) and to firefighter Philippe Bergeron (41-3), on a job well done!

It’s a girl for the 44-4 FR team!

Earlier in May, right near the end of their shift, the first-response firefighters (FR) from Station 44, Group 4, were called to assist a woman having strong contractions.

When they arrived at the home to which they’d been called and went inside, the firefighters found a woman in the final stages of labour.

The FR team had little time to react, because the baby’s head appeared after just two contractions. Everything happened very quickly and the mother delivered a baby girl before the Urgences-santé paramedics arrived on-scene.

The FR firefighters, who were all deeply moved by the experience, left the scene around 7:30 a.m. They headed home for a well-earned day of rest that started off with a heart-warming and very special moment.

Congratulations on excellent work go to Captain Martin Richard (44-2) and firefighters Éric Martin (44-4), Philippe Lachance (44-4) and Martin Coulombe (44-4).

Nova Scotia #NS | Govt seeks public input on use of #ServiceAnimals

The Department of Justice is seeking feedback on the definition and protection of rights of service animal users. It will be used to shape new legislation governing service animals.

“With the increasing use of service animals in Nova Scotia, we must ensure we are protecting the rights of people who rely on service animals,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General, Lena Metlege Diab. “There is confusion and we need to clarify what qualifies as a service animal, and the training and identification expectations that would be required to receive legal protection.”

Anne MacRae, executive director of the Disabled Persons Commission, said she agrees the rights of people who use service animals must be protected.

“We are encouraged by the steps being taken to help define these rights,” she said.

The use of guide dogs and other service animals are increasing as they provide critical support for Nova Scotians who are blind or visually impaired, and for people with other disabilities. This could include people who have autism, mobility issues, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, have seizures, who experience dissociative identity disorder, or who have other illnesses or disabilities that can be helped by a service animal.

“I am pleased that government is seeking clarity on the use of service animals,” said Charlie MacDonald, member of the minister’s advisory panel on accessibility legislation and guide dog user. “It’s very important to hear from the community; they’ll help shape the legislation and eventually help educate others on what the rights of service animal users are.”

Three consultations will be held in an open-house format:

— June 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Sydney Justice Centre, in the multi-purpose room on the lower level, 136 Charlotte St.
— June 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Human Rights Commission, in the resolution conference room, 6th floor, 1601 Lower Water St., Halifax
— June 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Yarmouth Justice Centre, in the conference room, 164 Main St. (French interpretation services available at this session)

Those planning to attend and require accommodation for a disability, can let organizers know by calling 902-424-7729.

A discussion paper and an online survey are now available for input on the definition of service animals, training standards, identification standards and penalties for breaking laws that protect service animal users.

Nova Scotians can access the discussion paper and provide feedback in many ways:

— feedback can be submitted online in English and French at
— the discussion paper will be available in English, French, ASL, Braille and large font
— comments can be emailed to or mailed to: Service Animals Consultation, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Policy, Planning and Research, P.O. Box 7, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2L6
— use TTY through the Disabled Persons Commission at 902-424-2667, or toll free within Nova Scotia at 1-877-996-9954
— phone 902-424-7729 for more information or to ask questions

Comments will be accepted until July 31.