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About environmental public health professionals

Environmental public health professionals (EPHPs) have the working titles of both public health inspector and environmental health officer. They safeguard the environment and the health of Canadians by providing health protection services in a variety of regulated and non-regulated areas.

EPHPs typically practise in federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and tribal government agencies on interdisciplinary public health teams. A smaller number work in the private sector as technical consultants or as workplace safety and health professionals, as well as in the fields of academics, public policy, executive management, research, scientific publication and information management. 

Data availability

CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of EPHPs in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, there are no legislated regulatory requirements for EPHPs. 

Practice criteria

To practise as an EPHP in Canada, an individual must obtain certification in public health inspection from the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI). The requirements to practise are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.

Common requirements

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in environmental health or equivalent from an approved program
  • Complete a 12-week (minimum) practicum in an agency approved by the CIPHI Board of Certification
  • Pass the certification exam through the CIPHI Board of Certification and maintain certification as required

Scope of practice

The scope of practice for EPHPs is articulated by CIPHI, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.

Specific roles vary among specialties; however, general responsibilities for professionals in this field includei

  • Inspecting the sanitary conditions of restaurants, schools, hospitals and other public facilities or institutions
  • Investigating health and safety–related complaints, spills of hazardous chemicals, outbreaks of diseases or poisonings, and workplace accidents
  • Developing, implementing and evaluating health and safety programs and strategies
  • Initiating enforcement procedures to fine or to close an establishment contravening municipal, provincial or federal regulations
  • Providing consultation and delivering training programs to employers, employees and the general public on issues of public health, environmental protection or workplace safety

i. Government of Canada. Unit group: 2263 inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety. Accessed June 1, 2016.