Jan. 23, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article was released by the Department of Health:
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Each day, public health inspectors such as Alexander Murdoch and Josée Thériault work to protect the health of people in New Brunswick. They and their colleagues are being recognized during Environmental Public Health Week, Jan. 19-25.
"We could not be moving forward without the talented and skilled people we have working in public health in New Brunswick," said Health Minister Michael Murphy. "They play a pivotal role in forestalling serious risks to public health and, thereby, in reducing strain on the health care system and promoting its sustainability during our province's journey to self-sufficiency."
Murdoch has been a public health inspector at the Department of Health since 1995. His jurisdiction covers Pokiok, Fredericton, Harvey and McAdam.
"Most people think of us as restaurant inspectors, but we have many other responsibilities," said Murdoch. "Our tasks include inspecting food services, on-site sewage system installations, daycares and adult residential facilities; ensuring compliance with the Smoke-free Places Act; and making sure municipalities comply with the Clean Water Act."
Thériault has been working in the field for the last 22 years. She is president of the New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors. She and a colleague carry out their duties in the northwest, from Connors to Drummond.
"I was interested in the field because there is no routine," said Thériault, explaining that the role of health inspectors is to inform people about risks to their health and what action they should take.
Public health inspectors also provide services in drinking water quality; prevention of food and waterborne related illness; tobacco use reduction; recreational water quality; air quality; rental house conditions; and infection control.
Public health inspectors are sometimes involved in cases that would surprise the public. Murdoch has worked on suspicious package investigations with the police, the fire department, public safety and public health. He has also been involved when a marijuana operation has been detected in an apartment building or house: the high humidity could have caused health problems for future residents.
Public health inspectors also worked long hours as part of the flood recovery team last spring.
Public health inspectors are becoming more visible when they are carrying out their duties. Inspectors now have official jackets so that people may more easily identify them.
Thériault agreed that the work of public health inspectors is more well known than before.
"I think that, since the public can see the results of our restaurant inspections online, we are more visible," said Thériault.
MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.