Category Archives: Canada

Saskatchewan #SK | New #wildfire #legislation now in effect

New wildfire management legislation has arrived in time for the province’s wildfire season, which typically runs from April 1 to October 31.

The Wildfire Act replaces The Prairie and Forest Fires Act, 1982, one of the oldest pieces of wildfire legislation in Canada.  The new Act, with the accompanying wildfire regulations, provides a modern regulatory framework that ensures public safety while fostering sustainable economic growth.

“This new legislation was developed in extensive consultation with stakeholders,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said.  “The result is a streamlined legal framework that continues to effectively protect communities, industry, property and valuable forest resources and supports safe development on Crown forest lands.”

The new legislation increases efficiency by reducing administrative requirements.  For example, burning permits are no longer required to burn in or within 4.5 kilometres of the provincial forest during the wildfire season, and have been replaced by a simpler, more flexible burn notification system with an exemption for small fires.

As well, the new Act and regulations clarify responsibility for wildfires within municipalities, enhance wildfire prevention and preparedness, and provide clear direction for industrial and commercial operators within the forest.

The Wildfire Act was passed in the spring of 2014 but was not proclaimed until the accompanying regulations were developed.  The new Act facilitates the development of wildfire chapters for the Saskatchewan Environmental Code, addressing topics including wildfire prevention and preparedness plans for industrial and commercial operations, and new buildings and structures where urban and forested areas meet.

Anyone planning to burn in or near the provincial forest can find information about safe burning and the new notification system at or by calling their local Forest Protection Area office.

Saskatchewan #SK | Residents reminded to take precautions for #Hantavirus

Health officials are reminding Saskatchewan residents to take precautions against hantavirus as the weather warms up.

Hantavirus is transmitted by breathing in contaminated airborne particles from the droppings, urine and saliva of infected deer mice. Initial symptoms of hantavirus infection include fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

“Symptoms then get worse and lead to a severe and often fatal lung disease known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said. “If you develop a fever, coughing and shortness of breath within one to six weeks of potential exposure to mouse-infested areas, seek medical attention immediately.”

The risk of contracting hantavirus infection is currently low in Saskatchewan. However, deer mice are present throughout the province and the risk will increase as the weather continues to warm up and people resume seasonal activities.

Quebec #QC | Un homme est réanimé après huit chocs et s’en sort sans séquelle – #ResuscitationReunion

De gauche à droite : Arlène Quinones, Patricia Charest, Nathalie Houle, Martin McDuff (Chef d’équipe CETAM), Isabelle Goulet (CLSC), agent Marie-Ève Castilloux-Asselin (SPAL), Jean-Robert Pelletier (paramédic CETAM), Pierre Lachapelle, Alicya et Christian Fleury (paramédic CETAM). Absents de la photo : Dr Normand Béland (CLSC), Laurence Cervant (CLSC), Marie-Sol Roldan( CLSC) Phot credit: CETAM
De gauche à droite : Arlène Quinones, Patricia Charest, Nathalie Houle, Martin McDuff (Chef d’équipe CETAM), Isabelle Goulet (CLSC), agent Marie-Ève Castilloux-Asselin (SPAL), Jean-Robert Pelletier (paramédic CETAM), Pierre Lachapelle, Alicya et Christian Fleury (paramédic CETAM). Absents de la photo : Dr Normand Béland (CLSC), Laurence Cervant (CLSC), Marie-Sol Roldan( CLSC). Photo credit: CETAM

Pierre Lachapelle a rencontré les personnes qui lui ont sauvé la vie. Infirmières du CLSC Saint-Hubert (CSSS Champlain–Charles-Le Moyne), agent du Service de police de l’agglomération de Longueuil (SPAL) et paramédics de la Coopérative de techniciens ambulanciers de la Montérégie (CETAM) étaient au rendez-vous.

Une rencontre émouvante qui s’est déroulée en compagnie de la petite fille de l’homme, Alicya, qui était présente lors de son malaise cardiaque.

Le matin du 2 février 2015, Pierre Lachapelle accompagnait sa petite fille au CLSC Saint-Hubert pour un suivi. Sans aucun signe avant-coureur, il s’est retrouvé en arrêt cardio-respiratoire dans la salle d’attente.

« Nous avons été les premières à intervenir en faisant le massage cardiaque et en utilisant le défibrillateur externe automatisé (DEA). Une équipe du Service de police de l’agglomération de Longueuil (SPAL) est arrivée en renfort, suivie de l’ambulance. Tout s’est déroulé dans l’harmonie, le calme et l’efficacité », se souvient Isabelle Goulet, infirmière au CLSC.

La CETAM a tenu à organiser cette rencontre pour souligner le travail d’équipe des différents intervenants qui ont sauvé la vie de monsieur Lachapelle, et ce, grâce à la rapidité du début des manoeuvres et à la qualité des soins de part et d’autre. Ces retrouvailles ont aussi permis au patient de remercier les personnes qui lui ont porté secours.

« Lorsque nous intervenons auprès d’un patient, nous avons tous le même objectif, c’est de le revoir en vie, debout et qu’il nous parle », a commencé à expliquer Christian Fleury, paramédic à la CETAM, avant que son coéquipier de longue date, Jean-Robert Pelletier, enchaîne. « C’est rare que nous ayons l’occasion de rencontrer un patient que nous avons réanimé, c’est plus que gratifiant, ça nous touche droit au coeur. »

Nova Scotia #NS | #Paramedics to provide in-home support for #palliative care patients

Palliative patients in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will soon be able to get more support from paramedics for pain and symptom management, at home.

“Many people don’t want to spend any part of their remaining months in hospital, they want to stay home, with their loved ones, in a setting that gives them comfort,” said Dr. Alix Carter, medical director of research for Emergency Health Services and EMS division director of Dalhousie Department of Emergency Medicine.

“But when they are experiencing unmanageable pain or other symptoms, and their regular care team is unavailable, they may end up calling 9-1-1 and being transported to hospital. With this project, paramedics will have new tools and skills which will allow them to provide palliative support that matches with the person’s wishes, including the possibility of managing symptoms at home.”

This care will be offered to patients starting in early May.

Before this project, 9-1-1 calls for palliative care patients required paramedics to transport them to hospital.

All 1,400 ground-ambulance paramedics in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are receiving training to increase their skills and resources to manage palliative care symptoms — such as pain, breathlessness, fear and anxiety.

In Nova Scotia, registering in EHS Nova Scotia’s special patient program will make it simpler for paramedics to provide care that is consistent with patients’ wishes.

Karen MacDonald, who cared for her husband at home for seven months before he passed away, says this program will help families feel comfortable as they follow their loved ones’ wishes to keep them at home.

“You’re always questioning, wondering ‘am I doing everything right?’ You feel guilty. It’s unknown territory for someone with no health-care training,” Ms. MacDonald said.

“This will allow a lot more people to consider bringing their loved ones home. It will give them someone to guide them.”

Project partners are the Department of Health and Wellness, Cancer Care Nova Scotia and Emergency Health Services, Dalhousie University’s department of emergency medicine, Health P.E.I. and Island EMS. The project has financial support from the Canadian Partnership against Cancer and Health Canada.

More information is available at

Prince Edward Island #PEI | A token of appreciation for Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers


More than 100 Islanders who get out of their warm beds in the middle of the night – often in foul weather — to help find people lost, at sea and on the ground, are receiving a small bit of compensation.

Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers in Prince Edward Island will receive free driver’s license renewals, free yearly motor vehicle registration and specialized license plates.

It’s a small token of appreciation from the government of Prince Edward Island for all they do, says Coast Guard Auxiliary (P.E.I.) Zone 4 Training Officer/Unit Leader Thomas J. MacDonald Jr.

“Our volunteers were pleased to be recognized for their hard work and dedication, they never got anything before,” MacDonald said.

There are currently 104 auxiliary coast guard volunteers across the island in two zones, east and west. These are people, mostly fishers, who use their own vessels and their own free time to help the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of National Defense members conduct lifesaving Search and Rescue missions and safe boating programs.

There was no compensation before.

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (PEI)’s mandate is to save lives on the water. Volunteers work to educate water-users about safe practices, provide marine search and rescue service, and prevent injury and loss of life.

British Columbia | Kelowna – Six year TB outbreak comes to an end

Many people believe tuberculosis (TB) has been eradicated but this is far from true. Every year nine million people world-wide get sick with TB and some of those people live right here. In 2008, the illness took hold in the Kelowna area, resulting in a six-year outbreak that was finally declared over earlier this year.

“The end of the outbreak was made possible by dedicated staff, team work, and collaboration,” said Dr. Robert Parker, acknowledging Interior Health’s TB Outbreak Management Team, which worked in partnership with several community organizations and the BC Centre for Disease Control to identify and treat new cases and minimize the public health risk.

“Prior to 2008 we did see a few TB cases each year but we didn’t really see active, ongoing TB transmission,” recalls Dr. Parker. “However, in late May 2008 when we identified TB in an individual staying at a local shelter, we knew we had a high risk situation.  Additional case finding confirmed we had active TB transmission occurring and we knew that we were probably facing a multi-year outbreak.”

The outbreak occurred primarily among homeless populations in the Kelowna area with a small number of linked cases identified in neighbouring communities. During the course of the outbreak 52 active TB cases were identified and approximately 2,400 contacts were exposed to infectious TB.

Dr. Sue Pollock who led the Outbreak Management Team for the last three years emphasizes that many factors contribute to these kinds of outbreaks.

“Outbreaks among the homeless are strongly related to social determinants of health and disparities in employment, income, safe housing, and access to health care. They typically last several years and require a tremendous amount of resources and community coordination to bring under control.”

The outbreak was challenging to manage. Those most at risk were often transient and had little interaction with health-care providers. To overcome this Interior Health’s Medical Health Officers and Communicable Disease Unit worked closely with community outreach services including street nurses, shelters and community agencies. Through these partnerships, street savvy outreach workers utilized their connections to reach hard to locate clients and regular screening and symptom checks were offered in locations where the clients felt safe and comfortable.

Sharon Cook, Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) Health Service Administrator, notes the outbreak also had a significant impact on acute services.

“A TB outbreak in the community meant we would see more TB patients in our hospital so we needed to take additional measures to reduce the risk to patients and staff. Upgrades were made to our isolation rooms at KGH, we implemented new clinical support tools and provided additional training for our staff.”

Managing the TB outbreak also involved a CSI-like science called ‘genomics’. Dr. Jennifer Gardy, Senior Scientist, BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) used DNA from the TB bacteria and other data collected by nurses during the outbreak to identify cases that were connected to the outbreak and to better understand how the outbreak spread from person-to-person. Her most recent analysis in January 2015 confirmed there was no evidence of ongoing transmission – the outbreak was indeed over.

March 24 is World TB Day; a day to raise public awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world. Here in British Columbia, there are more than 300 new cases of TB disease per year. TB is curable and there are excellent anti-TB medications available. Early detection of TB is critical to preventing outbreaks. Interior Health will continue to offer TB screening to those at risk.

For more information on TB visit

British Columbia | BC adds $5 million to wildfire protection program

The B.C. government is providing an additional $5 million to continue its support of the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative program, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.

The new funding will focus on prescription and fuel treatment projects in communities facing higher-than-average wildfire risks.

The B.C. government introduced the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative in 2004. Between 2004 and 2014, the program provided $62 million to help local governments and First Nations significantly reduce wildfire risks around their communities, especially in interface areas where urban developments border on forests and grasslands.

The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative is managed through the Provincial Fuel Management Working Group, which includes the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. (FNESS), the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).

To support local government and First Nations access to this new funding, a specialized call for proposals for summer 2015 will be implemented in early April. The call for funding proposals will be posted online at:

The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative, coupled with local government implementation of “FireSmart” bylaws for new developments in the wildland/urban interface, has been instrumental in reducing the risk of wildfire around the province.

People who live in rural areas can also help protect their homes by using FireSmart principles. The Homeowner’s FireSmart Manual was developed to help reduce the risk of personal property damage due to wildfires. Copies are available at:

  • As of Dec. 31, 2014, 279 Community Wildfire Protection Plans have been completed by local governments and First Nations. Another 33 are in progress. These plans identify areas at risk and prescribe fuel management projects to address those risks. Examples of projects include conventional harvesting; prescribed burning; improving spacing between live trees; removing dead trees; as well as cleaning up low branches, needles and wood debris that could potentially fuel a fire.
  • As of Dec. 31, 2014, completed fuel treatments and risk-reduction efforts from all projects covered more than 68,883 hectares of land in and around communities that face a significant wildfire risk. This includes 36,239 hectares of forest affected by the mountain pine beetle.
  • When not occupied with fire response activities, Wildfire Management Branch crews throughout the province routinely undertake fuel reduction treatments in high-risk areas. Over the past few years, WMB crews have assisted with over 250 treatment projects.

Alberta | AHS adds more EMS units and crews in Medicine Hat

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is addressing increasing local ambulance call volumes by adding Emergency Medical Services (EMS) vehicles and personnel.

The additional resources include:

  • One basic life support (BLS) ambulance, added last month to the existing complement of five peak-time advanced life support (ALS) ambulances.
  • A non-ambulance transfer (NAT) van staffed with two new emergency medical responders (EMRs), to be added next month.
  • Six new emergency medical technicians (EMTs), to be added April 1.
  • A second paramedic response unit (PRU), added late last year.

These changes will boost the number of local EMS personnel to 36, a 20 per cent increase.

“Since the fall of 2014, we have been working on addressing the increases in ambulance call volumes,” says Sean Chilton, Chief Zone Officer for AHS South Zone.

“By reallocating some current resources, we are able to add resources that will meet peak call volume demands in the community and provide the right level of care for patient needs.”

Local EMS currently responds to about 700 calls per month.

“The additional BLS ambulance and NAT van will be used in Medicine Hat for transporting non-urgent patients between AHS facilities,” said Sandy Halldorson, Executive Director of EMS for the South Zone. “This will allow us to keep more ALS ambulances and crews available to respond to emergency calls in the Medicine Hat area.”

ALS ambulances are able to respond to more complex medical situations with a staff of at least one paramedic who has expanded training and scope of practice and more life-saving equipment on board. ALS personnel have a two-year college diploma and are trained in all EMR and EMT skills but also have training in treatment, including advanced airway management and medication administration.

BLS ambulances are staffed with EMTs or EMRs, who have a standard level of equipment to provide essential medical care for patients. They provide basic patient assessment and treatment, including obtaining vital signs, administering oxygen and splinting extremities.

A PRU is a specially equipped sport-utility vehicle with advanced life support equipment, staffed by a paramedic. A PRU cannot be used to transport patients.

The NAT van is a specially equipped minivan for transferring medically stable patients between health care facilities for specialist consults, diagnostics and procedures. Two NAT vans are currently based in Brooks to serve the east part of South Zone. There are two other NAT vans in Raymond to serve the west part of the zone.

Alberta | Canadian Armed Forces salute AHS – Support for reservists garners provincial award

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is being honoured with a provincial award from the Canadian Armed Forces for its commitment to reservists — the military doctors, nurses and paramedics who work for AHS as well as serve Canada overseas.

Lt.-Gov. Donald S. Ethell, himself a highly decorated peacekeeper and humanitarian, will present the award March 28 at Government House on behalf of 15 Field Ambulance, the province’s Canadian Forces Primary Reserve medical unit, which successfully nominated AHS for the honour.

“Alberta stands apart from the rest of Canada in the support it provides military members both within the community and in times of need,” says Cmdr. Robert Briggs, who leads the unit.

“Alberta Health Services not only rose to the occasion during the Afghanistan conflict in its care and rehabilitation of ill and injured soldiers, but it continues to display its unwavering commitment to reservists.”

15 Field Ambulance has about 100 members, a third of whom work for AHS in Edmonton and Calgary.

Gary Agnew, Alberta Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Committee (CFLC), the group that chose AHS to be given its Provincial Award for Support to the Canadian Forces Domestic Operations, credits AHS for its progressive approach to reservists.

“Maintaining a balance between civilian and military life is complicated,” says Agnew. “A reservist’s relationship with his or her employee is central to transitioning into, and out of, civilian life. AHS has demonstrated extraordinary and consistent support for both the educational and operational needs of our reservists within its employment.”

Maj. William Patton agrees.

“AHS gives people the time off to capture those career courses, to make them a better officer, or to make them a better soldier, attend field exercises, or to do an overseas deployment,” says Patton, an Edmonton emergency physician and reservist medical officer who has commanded a military hospital in Afghanistan.

AHS and previous provincial health authorities have forged a mutually beneficial relationship with the Canadian military that’s more than a century old — dating to 1914 and the Strathcona Military Hospital during the First World War.

Past members of Alberta’s only reserve medical unit also fought during the Second World War in Dieppe, then across Italy, and reached northwest Europe by war’s end.

Current members have seen action in Afghanistan, the Golan Heights, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Egypt, along with peacetime training exercises around the globe.

On the home front, its members stepped up for the southern Alberta floods in 2013, the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and forest fires in B.C. in 2003.

Patton says AHS has “certainly gone above and beyond expectations in providing leave to allow members to deploy overseas on operations for six months or more.

“All the good things we do here at AHS – not least of which is excellence in clinical care – we bring into the military. We bring back to AHS some of the good things about the army, such as civic pride, organization and teamwork.”

Representing 15 Field Ambulance at the awards presentation will be Reservists Lt. Vanessa Ferris, a nurse at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and her husband Sgt. John Todd Ferris, an Edmonton paramedic.

Manitoba | $7M to install sprinklers, fire safety improvement in 24 personal care homes and hospitals in 2015

The Manitoba government is accepting all the recommendations of the Fire Safety Task Force report on ways to improve fire safety in care and treatment facilities, and has already started implementation of some changes, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun, minister responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner, and Health Minister Sharon Blady.

“After the tragic fire in L’Isle Verte, Quebec, last year, our government took immediate action by appointing the Fire Safety Task Force,” Minister Braun said.  “I thank the Office of the Fire Commissioner, members of the task force and all those consulted.  These recommendations are one more important step in protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Fire Safety Task Force made six recommendations including:

  • requiring sprinklers in new residential care facilities for children and adults;
  • requiring sprinklers in all existing treatment and care facilities;
  • making additional training available to local authorities;
  • ensuring local fire inspectors adopt a consistent approach to fire safety inspections;
  • increasing public awareness about the importance of fire safety; and
  • providing additional resources to the Office of the Fire Commissioner and local fire authorities to support fire protection planning, inspections and reporting.

The ministers noted a $7-million project is already underway to install sprinklers in five personal care homes and one hospital in 2015-16, and another 18 with other fire and life-safety improvements.

Almost 70 per cent of health-care and personal care home facilities in Manitoba already have full or partial sprinkler systems in place, and an additional 24 projects are currently underway, Minister Blady said.

“Manitobans want to know their loved ones are safe when they are in our care,” Minister Blady said.  “The task force recommendations provide a road map for ensuring all our care and treatment facilities have strong fire and life safety protections in place.”

In addition, the Manitoba government is investing an additional $2 million to work with fire-safety experts to assess all 125 personal care homes and 62 hospitals in Manitoba to develop a comprehensive inventory of fire and life-safety systems and a 10-year plan for prioritizing facility upgrades, Minister Braun said.  She added the review will determine if current systems provide appropriate protection and look at different options to guide future investments in fire-safety and sprinkler systems.

The task force also recommended making sprinklers mandatory in residential care facilities for adults and children licensed by Manitoba Family Services under Community Living Disability Services and Manitoba Child and Family Services with five occupants or more.  The Manitoba government invests approximately $400,000 annually for upgrades to residential care facilities, Minister Braun said.

The Fire Safety Task Force Report estimates the cost of implementing all recommendations to be approximately $125 million.  The Manitoba government has committed over $70 million for fire and life-safety upgrades over 10 years.  It will work through the budgetary process to secure additional funds to cover the cost of upgrades to public and private treatment and care facilities, Minister Braun noted.

The Fire Safety Task Force looked at a range of fire and life-safety activities including fire protection and early warning systems, code enforcement and inspections, education and prevention, as well as emergency and fire planning.  Chaired by staff from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, the task force included representatives from the Manitoba Building Standards Board, the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs, front-line fire services, regional health authorities and several Manitoba government departments.  Expertise and input was also sought from the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, local certified sprinkler system installers, municipal governments and others.

Implementing the recommendations of this report will ensure licensed treatment and care facilities meet the new fire and life-safety standards, the ministers noted.

In addition, the Office of the Fire Commissioner will take on a further review of fire and life-safety requirements for residential seniors’ homes not licensed as personal care homes or community living facilities.  This review is expected to begin in the spring of 2015, Minister Braun said.

The report is available at