Nova Scotians now have better protection when there is anemergency involving hazardous materials. A federal-provincial-municipal co-operative effort has created a network of sixspecially trained and equipped teams. Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash says the effortbegan with two provincial departments. “The Office of the FireMarshal and the Emergency Measures Organization found that therewas an opportunity to expand our capabilities.” Ernest Fage, Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act,agreed saying: “We were able to gain access to funding and,because both departments have close relationships with localemergency responders, we were able to help them develop asustainable hazardous materials response system.” The program has seen about $600,000 worth of equipment eitherdistributed among first responders, like police and firefighters,or pre-positioned at provincial storage facilities. Firstresponders have also received additional training. “The idea is to ensure that the right equipment is readilyaccessible anywhere in Nova Scotia, and that there are properlytrained people available to operate it,” Mr. Fage said. “Our close relationship with the Nova Scotia Firefighters’ Schoolhas allowed us to help them to develop the training localfirefighters need to respond to these incidents,” said Mr.Morash. Funding for the project was made available through the JointEmergency Preparedness Program administered through Public Safetyand Emergency Preparedness Canada. “It’s through thecollaborative efforts of first responders, municipalities,provinces and the federal government that we are building ourcapacity to ensure the safety of Canadians,” said Anne McLellan,the deputy prime minister and Minister of Public Safety andEmergency Preparedness Canada. The federal funding for this project was committed in federalbudget 2001, which provided $10 million to help provinces andterritories to enhance their response capacity. Approved projectsreceived 75 per cent of funding through the government of Canadaand 25 per cent through provincial contribution. The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program was established toimprove Canada’s ability to respond a broad range of emergencies,including biological and chemical weapons. “It’s important toremember that there are many emergencies involving dangerousmaterials for which we must be prepared,” said Mr. Fage. Mr. Morash used as examples a recent ammonia leak in Oxford and atrain derailment in Pictou County. “We saw local responders workclosely with staff from each of our departments to put thisequipment to efficient and effective use.” The hazardous materials response teams are located in Halifax andCape Breton regional municipalities, Bible Hill, Kentville,Yarmouth and Amherst. The two ministers visited a display of someof the equipment today, May 5, in Halifax. ENVIRONMENT/LABOUR–Co-operation Improves Hazardous MaterialsResponse
Nova Scotians with mental health problems will have improved access to appropriate mental health services as a result of a $6.7-million construction project at the Nova Scotia Hospital. The investment will allow for the construction of four home-like in-patient care units. Each unit will house 10 bedrooms and associated living space. “The province is making good on its promise to enhance mental health services in Nova Scotia,” said Health Minister Chris d’Entremont, today, May 2. “This project is particularly exciting because it reflects a shift to a more flexible community-focused model of care that will help us better support patients and families who face mental health issues.” The four units will share common staff work areas, as well as an indoor greenhouse and outdoor garden. The construction will allow the relocation of 40 in-hospital beds. The project is an expansion of government’s commitment to improving access to appropriate mental health services across the province, and particularly for people in the Capital Health district. “Today’s announcement is a tremendous boost for all the work that is underway to improve how we deliver mental health services in the capital district,” said John Malcom, interim CEO for Capital Health. “The residential-style in-patient units are better for patients, staff and their families.” The project is expected to take about 18 months to complete. The cost for the construction project is being shared 75 per cent by the Department of Health and 25 per cent by the district.