POLITICS

Ebola outbreak: Canadian volunteers to West Africa doubles since call to action

12/30/2014 05:10 EST | Updated 03/01/2015 05:59 EST
The number of Canadians who have volunteered to take part in the government's efforts to stop the deadly spread of Ebola in West Africa has doubled since Health Minister Rona Ambrose put out a call to action last month.

Ambrose called on health-care workers to join the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea during a press conference on Nov. 27.

​​Nick Ayre, a recruitment officer with the Red Cross’s Ebola response team, said 670 Canadians have applied to help contain the deadly virus in West Africa — 350 since the government's call for more volunteers. Of the 350 who have applied, 100 of those are government workers.​

In an interview with CBC News, Ayre did not sugarcoat the risks and challenges faced by volunteers on this mission.

"The environmental conditions are harsh to deal with and they're coming face-to-face on a daily basis with death."

Ayre said while the majority of the applicants are nurses, there is still a need for more volunteers, specifically doctors as well as water sanitation engineers.

37 Canadian troops in Sierra Leone 

The Red Cross will open a new treatment centre in Kono, Sierra Leone, in the next few days. The new centre will open as Canadian troops have begun working on the ground.

The federal government confirmed today that 37 Canadian Armed Forces doctors, nurses, medics and support staff have started working at a British-operated treatment unit in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.

National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, following an event in Halifax earlier today, welcomed their efforts in preparing for the mission.

"The feedback that I have received at this point in time is that it's positive and they're working well and putting this together."

In a written statement, Lieutenant-General Jonathan Vance, commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command, said he was proud of the work Canadian troops were doing on the ground.

"Their efforts will help alleviate human suffering, save lives, and serve as a reminder of the Canadian Armed Forces’ important and enduring role in helping people around the world."