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Northern Health experiencing Environmental Health Officer shortage

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(With files by Darin Bain-MyPGNow)

Northern Health says the region is experiencing a significant shortage of Environmental Public Health staff.

According to Northern Health, Environmental Health Officers (EHO) are responsible for assessing public health risks, addressing health hazards in the community, and permitting and inspecting a wide range of facilities such as drinking water systems, food establishments, and other regulated facilities.

They’ve also supported compliance with Provincial Health Orders during the COVID-19 response, investigating and controlling clusters and outbreaks in various settings.

According to Northern Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Jong Kim, Northern Health currently has around one-third of the full complement of EHO’s the region requires.

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“As we continue to actively recruit to EHO vacancies, existing staff remain committed to controlling and addressing public health risks in communities, and will prioritize efforts for the highest risk facilities and scenarios,” Kim said. 

“In a way we have had the shortage in Northern Health for a long time, in terms of both shortage and turnover in EHOs.”

Kim added the situation did get worse during the pandemic.

The Northern Health Authority is actively recruiting EHO vacancies, with their efforts including offering incentives, working with post-secondary institutions, and developing targeted recruitment campaigns that showcase the opportunities available in Northern BC.

 

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