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Speaking Notes For the Hon. Rona Ambrose Minister of Health: Join the Fight Against Ebola

Ottawa, ON
November 27, 2014

Good afternoon,

Thank you Dr. Suh for that introduction and for hosting us today.

For several months, Dr. Taylor, myself and several of my provincial and territorial colleagues, have been working together to ensure not only that we are prepared for a possible case of Ebola  in Canada, but to do everything we can to fight this outbreak in West Africa.

We are here today to update Canadians on our next steps in this global fight.

We just had the pleasure of watching a demonstration from a team of talented nurses here at the Ottawa Hospital.

In the Simulation Centre we watched them practice putting on their personal protective equipment and treat a dummy patient.  We then walked through, step-by-step, the safe way to remove this equipment.

These steps are imperative in protecting the healthcare workers here at home and I am very pleased to see that they are very well prepared. We must continue to remain vigilant here at home and prepare for a possible case of Ebola.

That is why Dr. Taylor and I are in regular contact with the Provinces and Territories and health organizations.

Yesterday, I spoke with several of my counterparts in the provinces and territories and we are all working together to share information and best practices to protect Canadians.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the most severe and complex the world has seen in 40 years of combatting this virus.

The humanitarian, social, and economic impacts will be felt long after the virus is contained.

I’m proud to say that Canada has been at the forefront of the international response since April—contributing funds, expertise, and equipment.

To date we have committed over $92 million in health, humanitarian support and security interventions.

It has gone to support the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and others to enhance treatment and prevention efforts, to improve health capacity to save lives, and to support the basics such as nutrition.

Our efforts are directed at bringing an end to this outbreak, treating patients, assuring the availability of essential services, preserving stability, and preventing outbreaks in surrounding countries.

With some of the most skilled, experienced, and courageous healthcare professionals in the world, Canada is well-placed to help stem the tide of this deadly outbreak.

The need for humanitarian assistance is ongoing.  And as the situation in West Africa evolved, so has Canada’s contribution.

Canada is once again, stepping up and stepping forward to help.

Today I am issuing a call to action to Canadian healthcare workers.  To travel to West Africa to care for Ebola patients in Ebola Treatment Centres in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The effort requires medical doctors and nurses, psychosocial support workers, water and sanitation engineers, and infection prevention and control workers.

We are asking healthcare workers to ‘Join the Fight against Ebola!’ through a Canadian campaign that will target the specialized workers needed on the ground in West Africa.

We are asking those Canadians who are able and eligible to commit to the campaign.

Federally we also want to ensure that our employees know that they have our full support, should they be interested in “joining the fight against Ebola.

We will ensure Federal Employees have no changes to their circumstances, including maintaining their full salaries, benefits and pensionable service during their posting.

We want to maximize the incentives to encourage our personnel to volunteer.

The deployment to West Africa means an eight-week commitment: one week of training, four weeks in the field, followed by three weeks of rest.

The Canadian Campaign will be working directly with the Canadian Red Cross.

Shortly, we will hear from, Conrad Sauvé, Secretary General and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross who will explain operational details.

We are incredibly grateful to Canadian aid workers who are already on the ground supporting the Ebola response in West Africa.

Currently, 30 Canadian response workers, including 10 healthcare workers, are there working to protect global public health.

To the many aid organizations with us today, I want to thank you, for your unwavering commitment and support to the people of West Africa.  

Dedicated aid workers are putting their lives on the line to save others and that is truly noble and commendable.

To support the aid efforts, I am also pleased to announce, on behalf of my colleague, Minister Christian Paradis who is currently in Senegal an additional $20.9 million which will be allocated to ten humanitarian organizations to help meet the ongoing humanitarian needs of people affected on the ground.

Canada’s contribution to these organizations will support treatment efforts, including home-based and community care, infection prevention and control activities, as well as health promotion, social mobilization and increased access to basic services for affected communities.

The funding announced today will be allocated to the Canadian Red Cross Society, the French Red Cross Society, Samaritan’s Purse, Doctors Without Borders, Action Contre la Faim, Plan Canada, CANADEM, Oxfam Quebec, Save the Children and CARE Canada.

Importantly this funding will also support the training of urgently needed Canadian medical personnel and emergency experts whose assistance will be critical in West Africa.

We are making a strong contribution to international efforts abroad and working together to prepare here at home.   Today’s announcement brings us over $110 Million in financial contributions.

Thank you for joining us here today and to the Ottawa Hospital for hosting us.