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Greetings from Canada! The Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) is a member organization of the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) and we are thrilled, along with the British Columbia Branch of CIPHI, to host the 2010 IFEH World Congress in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.
Canada, with a population of just over 32,000,000 and a population density of 3.3 people per square kilometer, has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Canada’s polar region encompasses 41% of the land mass in Canada but only 0.3% of the population. (Canada’s polar region is made up of the Yukon & Northwest Territories and Nunavut.) As you can see, contrary to popular belief, we don’t all live in the “frozen north”.
At the recent IFEH World Congress in Ireland, a delegate remarked that in looking at the name tags of the Canadian delegates, “None of you have a Canadian surname.” This illustrates the multi-cultural nature of Canada and the fact that other than First Nations peoples, Canada has been populated by immigrants from around the world. Canada is a land of great multi-cultural diversity and geographic diversity.
CIPHI was first formed as a professional association in 1913 and received its Charter from the Government of Canada in 1934. CIPHI membership is comprised of Environmental Public Health Professionals (EPHP) from across Canada. Most EPHP use either “Public Health Inspector” or “Environmental Health Officer” as their working titles. While the majority of EPHP are employed by municipal, provincial or federal government agencies, other employment opportunities include private industry, education facilities and self-employment.
CIPHI is the only professional association for EPHP in Canada. CIPHI is a non-profit organization that continually works to advance the profession of Environmental Public Health through certification, advocacy, education and the setting of standards. Membership with CIPHI is not yet mandatory for practicing EPHPs. There are about 1,600 EPHP’s working in Canada with about 1100 of those holding membership in CIPHI.
The Board of Certification (BOC) of CIPHI is the body which is responsible for certifying Environmental Public Health Professionals in Canada since 1963. To advance its’ objectives, CIPHI also operates the Environmental Health Foundation of Canada (EHFC) as an independent, charitable foundation whose sole function is dedicated to advancing environmental health in Canada and internationally through the development and implementation of education and research initiatives.
Operationally, CIPHI is a bilateral organization consisting of CIPHI National and eight regional branches: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia/Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. At the National level, day-to-day decisions are the responsibility of the National Executive Council (NEC), which is comprised of the Presidents of the regional branches, a Past President and a National President. The Presidents of the regional branches are elected by the members of their branch, whereas the National President is elected by the general membership. As separate arms of CIPHI, both the BOC and the EHFC ultimately report to the NEC.
One of the challenges CIPHI faces is communication. With a relatively small membership scattered across such a large land mass, various communication tools are necessary. The professional journal, the “Environmental Health Review” is published quarterly and reaches all members. The CIPHI website, www.ciphi.ca is another invaluable tool in this electronic age that has proven to be a popular site to visit for all EPH Professionals. Recently, CIPHI has also launched an electronic newsletter.
As a volunteer-based organization, CIPHI work is typically done off the ends of workplace desks, from home basements, and on living room floors. CIPHI as an organization is in a growth phase that poses significant challenges for these dedicated volunteers. Through the vision of these volunteers, CIPHI is working on several large projects including the defining of Discipline Competencies for the Environmental Public Health Profession, implementation of mandatory membership in CIPHI and the development of a Continuing Professional Competency Program. In moving to a self-regulatory model CIPHI believes this will result in increased recognition and a means to assess ongoing competency after entry to practice.
In an effort to raise the profile of the EPHP and celebrate our profession, CIPHI volunteers organize a recognition week each January. Activities that have been arranged around Environmental Public Health Week include the broad distribution of a poster, press releases, articles in newsletters etc. This recognition week has grown steadily over the past few years with more and more members participating in finding creative ways to promote the profession.
We look forward to seeing you in Beautiful British Columbia in September 2010!