It is important that we have public buildings and a health system which is safe for those who have latex allergies. I asked the Minister of Health in estimates what he is doing about this situation?
I have been approached by, and have been working with, a number of individuals who have a–quite a severe latex allergy, latex being an airborne allergen as well as contact allergen. These individuals have problems in being in buildings where, for example, latex cleaning gloves are used. And in our Legislative Assembly, under a former minister of Health, a change was made so that the cleaning gloves used in this Legislative Building are no longer latex but they're other gloves, and this made it possible for people with a latex allergy to visit in the Legislative Building, whereas before it was not possible.
I wonder if, you know, in view of the fact that this is a significant factor, in view of the fact that hospitals in other jurisdictions have made their hospitals latex safe and part of that is moving away from the use of latex gloves for cleaning, whether the minister would consider making a change in hospitals in Manitoba so that the gloves used for cleaning purposes would not be latex anymore.
Mr. Goertzen: I thank the member for raising that question, and I'll give him credit, it's not one that's come specifically to my attention previously. My understanding from officials is that within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority there has been a policy in place for about the last year and half or so that minimizes the use of latex to the greatest extent possible.
Officials advise that it's impossible to entirely eliminate latex, but that there is a policy in place at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to minimize occupational risks associated with latex exposure amongst staff that are sensitized.
So it involves not only the minimization of the use of those products, but also staff, doing an assessment of staff to determine and then have them provide the information in terms of what sensitivities they have to those products.
So I understand that that's in place, that policy within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. I'd have to do a scan to see if it's a similar situation in the other regional health authorities.