Environmental Health Services (EHS) is mandated to act as a resource to the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), the Ministry of Health (MoH), and BC’s Regional Health Authorities (RHA) on matters related to environmental health policy, practice, and research. This is accomplished through a mix of activities that can be broadly organized into the following four areas: Policy Coordination and Support, Provision of Consultative Resources, Environmental Health Capacity Expansion Through Research and Education, and Direct Service Provision.
Policy Support and Coordination
EHS helps support and coordinate environmental health policy development primarily through the BC Environmental Health Policy Advisory Committee (BCEHPAC). Other roles include:
- As the secretariat for the BCEHPAC, EHS plays a key role in ensuring an efficient, inclusive, and collaborative approach to the development of environmental health policy in British Columbia.
- EHS provides technical advice and expertise to the BCEHPAC, The Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), and other public sector partners in order to ensure that environmental health policy development is well supported by scientific evidence and focused on those environmental hazards that contribute to the greatest burden of morbidity and mortality in the province.
- EHS also works to develop practical surveillance instruments to better monitor the incidence and prevalence of health impacts related to environmental hazards in BC, as well as tools to assess the distribution and impact of environmental hazards needing remediation.
Provision of Consultative Resources
EHS staff provide a number of unique consultative services to the PHO, MoH, regional health authorities (RHAs), and other public sector partners including, but not limited to, the following activities:
- Knowledge translation related to the management of unusual or complex situations involving risks to human health from environmental hazards;
- Risk-analysis and risk-assessment of different environmental hazards; and,
- Development of guidelines and advice related to diverse issues of environmental health significance.
Environmental Health Capacity Expansion Through Education and Research
Where there is limited scientific evidence to support Environmental Health policy, EHS leverages its strong relationships with academic partners to coordinate and conduct focused research to fill these knowledge gaps. EHS also focuses on developing educational tools to assist RHA based environmental health practitioners. More recently, EHS has hosted and mentored a number of young researchers conducting studies in different areas of environmental health.
Direct Service Provision
- Provision of poison information services to health professionals and the public by the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre
- Dissemination of food recall notices provincially.
- Co-management of foodborne illness outbreaks with the Epidemiology Division.
- Development and diffusion of BC-wide food recall strategies.
- Revision of food safety plans for chain restaurants with headquarters outside of BC.
- Revision of provincial fish processing plant applications.
- Audit of BC Trans-Fat Regulation documentation for chain restaurants with headquarters outside of BC.
- Inspection and licensure of provincial dairy processing plants.
- Licensure of provincial dairy plant workers.
- Licensure of provincial abattoirs.
- Co-management of the provincial meat-inspection regime with the MoH.
- Consultations on the installation and safe use of medical x-ray devices.
National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health
EHS also hosts the National Collaborating Centre on Environmental Health (NCCCEH).
- The NCCEH is one of six centres created to foster linkages within the public health community.
- The centres are funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health program.
- The NCCEH's focus is environmental health, defined initially as services and programs currently delivered by regional and local health agencies in Canada.
- The NCCEH's function is to synthesize, translate, and exchange knowledge; identify gaps in research and practice knowledge; and build capacity through networks of environmental health practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers.