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Ontario Supporting Research in Health and the Environment

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Ontario Supporting Research in Health and the Environment

Province Investing in Aerial Detection of Waterborne Microbes

Ontario is supporting a new five-year Research Chair position at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) focused on health and the environment.

With an investment of $1 million from the province's Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), and in partnership with Discovery Air Fire Services, the Research Chair and their team will develop remote sensing technology to identify harmful waterborne microbes.

The technology will allow the researchers to conduct aerial identification of waterborne cyanobacteria (blue green algae). Waterborne blue green algae can pose a health risk to both people and animals, who may drink or bathe in contaminated lake water.

Investing in research and innovation is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario's history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Quick Facts

  • Since 2013, the province has invested more than $406 million through the NOHFC in over 2,550 projects, leveraging more than $1.2 billion in direct economic activity and creating or sustaining over 9,170 jobs in Northern Ontario.
  • The aerial identification will utilize remote sensing, which is a general term for gathering information from sensors mounted on drones, aircraft and even satellites.
  • Some strains of cyanobacteria are harmful to individuals and animals, who drink or bathe in contaminated waters, and can also pose a risk to municipal water systems.
  • The NOHFC’s investments in research and innovation are part of the Ontario government’s Growth Plan for Northern Ontario [pdf].

Additional Resources


“The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is a tremendous success story in our part of the province, with the majority of their graduates staying in the North to practice their craft. But, there is much more happening at NOSM, which is why we are so pleased to announce support today for a new Research Chair at the School; one that is focused on developing remote sensing technology to identify harmful waterborne microbes‎. This cutting edge research will improve the health of all Ontarians as we also help to build up the economy through innovative projects like this.”

Michael Gravelle

Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC

“The Northern Ontario ‎School of Medicine is a shining example of Northern innovation. The groundbreaking research being conducted at the School will help to create jobs and economic activity in our community and lead to better health care outcomes for residents not just in the North but across Ontario.”

Bill Mauro

MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan

“NOSM is committed to quality research and to improving the health of the people of Northern Ontario. We thank the NOHFC for investing in our Research Chair position in Health and the Environment, which we believe will help detect potentially hazardous algal blooms in an accurate and timely manner.”

Dr. David Musson

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

“Through this project, we will conduct research to define more efficient and timely methods to identify harmful waterborne microbes. We thank the province and the NOHFC for their support of this important research.”

Dr. Gregory Ross

Principal Investigator and Faculty Member, NOSM

“Our company is focused on the use of airborne detection of key environmental events, such as the detection of wildfires. Expanding the use of our remote sensors for detection of other critical events, such as algal blooms, is a natural progression of our product offerings.”

Mark Hill

President of Discovery Air Fire Services

Media Contacts



Environment and Energy Health and Wellness Rural and North