In the wake of five recent, preventable deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Whitehorse home, attention to the personal safety of all Yukon residents in homes they own, lease, or rent, is critical.
The NDP official Opposition has long called for a public inquiry to get to the bottom of the incident, learn from it and ensure that action is taken immediately to prevent any further deaths.
The 2007-2010 reports prepared for Yukon Housing Corporation, by Rod Corea, presented several recommendations that could, and we would argue should, have been implemented sooner.
Along with the work of the 2008 oil-fired appliances advisory committee and information posted on the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation website, the government of the Yukon has sufficient evidence to support taking the following actions as urgent priorities:
1) The government should bring forward oil burner legislation and regulations that require technical standards and the licensing and certification of tradespeople in the Yukon who install and service oil burning appliances.
2) As an interim measure prior to development of legislation and regulations, the government should immediately update building standard regulations to require that permits for oil-fired appliance installations and alterations be issued only to certified oil burner mechanics.
3) The government should ensure adequate resources are available to enable government inspectors to enforce compliance in new construction and rental properties of all national minimum oil burner code requirements.
4) The government should support training courses for local residents to obtain certification of oil burner mechanics to the highest interprovincial standard.
5) The government should develop residential tenancy standards in updated legislation governing the responsibilities and obligations of landlords and tenants to ensure the safety of all persons living in rental accommodations. This would include a requirement that oil-fired appliances in rental accommodations be installed and inspected by a certified oil burner mechanic, and that carbon monoxide detectors be installed and regularly serviced.
6) The government should prepare a public awareness campaign plan that encourages people to have their oil burning appliances regularly inspected by a certified oil burner mechanic, and to install and regularly inspect carbon monoxide detectors. The campaign would also include information about the implementation of the new legislative and regulatory safety standards recommended in parts one and two.
7) The government should update Yukon standards to comply with new national safety standards whenever national safety code standards are updated.