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November 17, 2003
Toronto and Atlanta look for lessons from SARS: Symposium addresses public health emergencies preparedness
Officials with a wide range of responsibilities for dealing with public health
emergencies gathered in Toronto on November 13 for a symposium to discuss
emergency preparedness for the City of Toronto.

Lawyers, public health officials, law enforcement representatives and public
safety representatives were invited to the symposium, hosted by the City of
Toronto's Legal Division and Toronto Public Health.

Representatives from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Public Health Law Program in Atlanta shared information on public health
preparedness in the United States.

City Solicitor Anna Kinastowski said, "The symposium provided a forum for those
involved in this year's SARS outbreak in Toronto to discuss preparedness issues
they encountered, the steps taken to address them and the roles and
responsibilities of the interconnecting players. The participation of our
American colleagues last week will help us identify cross-border problems and
issues that we can address jointly through collaborative projects, some of
which may include harmonization of laws, reporting of disease cases and travel
across our borders."

At the symposium, participants reviewed the interaction between the law and
public health and discussed lessons learned from SARS at the municipal and
provincial levels of government and at several hospitals. Participants also
discussed concurrent investigations of biologic events and how public health
and law enforcement can work effectively together to co-ordinate services. The
CDC's recently developed course for joint training of law enforcement and
public health officials on investigative responses to bio-terrorism was
presented as a potentially useful tool for the City of Toronto.

Media contacts:
Jane Speakman, Legal Division, 416-392-1563
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7873



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