FREDERICTON (GNB) – Health Minister Victor Boudreau and chief medical officer of health Dr. Eilish Cleary met with the federal government’s chief public health officer Dr. Gregory Taylor today to launch a joint planning exercise involving provincial health officials and the federal Ebola virus disease Rapid Response Team.

“Planning and preparedness for a possible first case of Ebola in New Brunswick or Canada requires federal, provincial and territorial collaboration,” said Boudreau. “Today’s meeting with Dr. Taylor, members of the Rapid Response Team and our senior health care officials demonstrates the ability of all levels of government and of various agencies to work together for timely and effective preparedness and response to events of significance to public health.”

This is the latest in a series of meetings and joint exercises between the Rapid Response Team and provincial and territorial health officials to further strengthen and refine the country’s domestic planning and co-ordination efforts. The exercise, hosted by New Brunswick, tested various components of the province’s public health response including communication, biosafety, infection prevention and control, laboratory response, epidemiology and surveillance, and emergency operations in the event of an Ebola case.

“The Government of Canada continues to work closely with its partners in health to ensure we are as prepared as possible in the event of a first case, and Canada's Ebola Rapid Response Teams are an essential component of our collaborative Ebola planning,” said Taylor. “Canada is fortunate to have a flexible, nimble model for rapid Ebola response, one that can deploy without hesitation when requested and adjust to varying needs from community to community.”

Taylor also thanked the provincial government for its contributions to the global fight against Ebola in West Africa. In October 2014, the provincial government, in co-ordination with the Public Health Agency of Canada, donated $425,000 worth of surplus personal protective equipment to the World Health Organization.

Provincial and territorial health authorities, health-care organizations, and associations across Canada have undertaken extensive planning and preparation activities since the Ebola outbreak began in Africa. However, containing the spread of an infectious disease like Ebola requires collaboration across all levels of government and the health sector. Given that operational needs in each provincial and territorial jurisdiction may differ, planning exercises are an important component to ensuring mutual preparedness.

“Canada remains at the forefront of the fight against Ebola in West Africa,” said federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose. “We are working diligently with our provincial and territorial partners to support readiness across the country. While we have not had an Ebola case we must be prepared, and we will continue to take all steps necessary to protect Canadians and ensure we are able to respond quickly and effectively.”

In addition to launching today’s exercise, Taylor and Cleary also met to discuss Cleary’s recent mission to Nigeria and Sierra Leone where she provided expertise in infectious disease prevention and control as an advisor to the World Health Organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Cleary’s lessons learned from her on-the-ground experience will contribute to Canada’s own domestic preparedness.