Ebola outbreak prompts Canada to deploy more quarantine officers at airports

Health Minister Rona Ambrose says Canada will spend an additional $30.5 million on the global fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The bulk of the funding will be spent on research into Canada's Ebola vaccine and other treatments to counter the deadly disease.

Canada announces an additional $30.5 million to fight Ebola

Health Minister Rona Ambrose and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Gregory Taylor updated Canadians on current actions on the Ebola outbreak on Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Health Minister Rona Ambrose says the federal government will dispatch more quarantine officers at Canada's airports to screen for Ebola and provide more funding for research into Canada's Ebola vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments.

The new measures are part of an additional $30.5-million investment by the Canadian government in the global fight against the outbreak, which has affected countries in West Africa.

"We're here today to announce further support for preparedness here at home and new medical counter-measures in the global fight against the outbreak," Ambrose said during an announcement in Winnipeg on Monday.

Canada's contribution of $30.5 million includes:

  • $1 million to deploy new quarantine officers to Canada's airports.
  • $3 million to help front-line workers with training and equipment.
  • $23.5 million for research and development of Ebola vaccines and other treatments.
  • $3 million to further support the World Health Organization.

Ambrose said she had another meeting with Canada's provincial and territorial health ministers where they discussed training for front-line workers.

"Today we are investing $1 million to deploy additional public health agency quarantine officers to Canadian airports to better identify and manage potential Ebola cases."

Until now Canada has had quarantine officers stationed at six airports across the country: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary.

"In order to further strengthen Canada's readiness at home, we're also making available $3 million in funding to enhance community health preparedness, including supporting the provinces and territories in the delivery of infection control training and equipment," Ambrose said on Monday.

Ambrose said the government will also launch a new Ebola public awareness campaign this month.

Ambrose commends scientists

In addition to these domestic efforts, Ambrose said the bulk of the funding, $23.5 million, will go to help support "Ebola vaccine clinical trials and to create a stockpile of the vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments" for use here and abroad.

The federal health minister commended "the tireless work" of Canada's "incredible scientists" for giving the world hope that the outbreak will be contained. She also applauded "the courage and professionalism" of health-care workers.

Ambrose confirmed that Canada's shipment of 800 vials of experimental Ebola vaccine has been received by the WHO in Geneva. 

The health minister also announced an additional $3 million in funding for the WHO that will come from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and be delivered through its Global Partnership Program.

The health minister was joined by Dr. Gregory Taylor, the chief public health officer, and Dr. Judith Bossé, the assistant deputy minister for infectious disease prevention and control.

"Today's announcement further demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that Canada continues to remain cautious and well-prepared," Taylor said.

The chief public health officer said he will continue to work with the provinces and territories to ensure the health sector and all levels of government are well-prepared in the event of a first case of Ebola in Canada.

Officials reiterated there are currently no cases of Ebola in Canada.

Today's announcement is in addition to the $65 million Canada has already committed to support global health, humanitarian and security initiatives.

Ambrose also confirmed that all of the personal protective equipment Canada had promised to donate has arrived in West Africa. The final shipment was sent on Friday and arrived in Conakry and Monrovia on Saturday. This includes equipment such as gloves, masks and gowns.


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