Sure, I always appreciate the opportunity to speak about Canada's response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It also allows me to correct some of the misinformation that exists and combat the stigma that we're seeing in some places, especially for returning health care workers.
It's clear that we're in the midst, as you said, of the largest outbreak ever in the four-decade history of this disease, but for all the headlines and the horrifying statistics, there is a great deal of misinformation about Ebola, and that persists. Because the virus has never actually been present in Canada, the facts about what Ebola actually is and how it spreads might not be top of mind for many Canadians. That's why earlier this month we announced that throughout November we're broadcasting a public awareness campaign to communicate the facts on Ebola and combat stigma. This includes the basics on what the virus is, how it spreads, and what people should do to be prepared.
What was of significant concern to me after speaking to the heads of our aid agencies was that many aid workers were returning home to Canada and not being treated like the heros they really are. The head of Doctors Without Borders was particularly concerned about how people in neighbourhoods were reacting to returning doctors, how hospitals were reacting, and even other health care workers were reacting to people who were returning.
The truth is that these people are putting their lives on the line at great personal risk, and the aid agencies are managing their health care workers with very rigorous rest periods and self-isolation. They're taking all the precautions necessary. The Canadian public needs to have the facts on the virus should there be a case of Ebola ever occurring here in Canada, but we also need to make sure that the public is well educated, and as a country we need to be prepared.
In terms of our preparedness, I feel quite reassured about the level of preparedness in the provinces and territories. I speak regularly with my provincial counterparts, and Dr. Taylor speaks almost twice a week with his counterparts. Our provincial colleagues feel very confident about their preparedness or their readiness. The Public Health Agency has now provided updated guidance to provincial and territorial health authorities.
Of course, they are responsible for training their health care workers, but we've really seen them step up to the plate and offer the necessary training to nurses and doctors. What I've said to the heads of the nurses union and nurses association is that if any of their members still feel vulnerable to step up and speak to the people in their organization, make sure that the training is offered and that it's hands-on training, not just a video, and that they feel completely confident putting that equipment on and taking it off. It seems to me from the feedback I've received that this is happening. People are speaking up should they feel they need more training and the provinces are working hard to make sure that training is available.
As I mentioned earlier, the Public Health Agency stands ready with all our expertise. Our five rapid response teams are ready to support the provinces should they have to receive a patient with Ebola. Our teams are ready to deploy at a moment's notice. We've been provided with the aircraft necessary to make sure we're able to get to any point in Canada should we need to do that.
We also have set aside $3 million for the provinces and territories to support them in their preparedness on the community side.
As committee members will appreciate, I want to thank my officials from the Public Health Agency. They've worked very collaboratively with the provinces and territories and with front-line health care workers. At every point that there have been any concerns, they have been invited in to be heard. We've done our very best to respond to everyone, whether it's the provincial-level officials or nursing associations. Even though nurses may not be our jurisdiction we wouldn't even think about not having them at the table. We've worked very hard to make sure everyone is included at every step in the guidelines we've been providing. We've communicated directly with not only the provinces and territories but with many front-line organizations as well so that we can support them directly.
We'll continue to take all steps necessary, and we continue to respond to requests.
Canada's response has been very significant and very effective, and it has been based on requests. As requests come in from the World Health Organization, such as for protective equipment, we'll continue to respond.