NDP calls for stricter rules on furnace safety

The Yukon government's plans to upgrade furnace safety in the territory don't go far enough, says the NDP Opposition.

The Yukon government’s plans to upgrade furnace safety in the territory don’t go far enough, says the NDP Opposition.

“Last week, the government announced its vague plan to take action on the issue of oil-fired appliance safety someday,” Lois Moorcroft, MLA for Copperbelt South, told the legislature last Thursday. “However, the minister neglected to mention that they are rejecting one of the key recommendations of the oil-fired appliances working group.”

The working group recommended that all installations, upgrades and maintenance on oil-burning furnaces be done by certified mechanics.

The government has promised to enact legislation that will require installations and upgrades to be done by certified professionals, but not routine or emergency maintenance.

“This move will leave Yukoners at risk of another avoidable tragedy like the one in Porter Creek almost 10 months ago,” added Moorcroft, referring to the death of five people by carbon monoxide poisoning in January.

Housing Minister Scott Kent responded that the decision to reject that recommendation came from extensive community consultations.

“What we heard loud and clear from rural Yukoners, including a former NDP MLA from Old Crow and a former NDP candidate from Haines Junction, is that the capacity does not exist in rural Yukon at this point to accept that recommendation, to have the servicing or maintenance of oil-fired burning appliances conducted by certified members.”

The territory will instead focus on training so that more certified professionals are available across the communities in the future, said Kent.

But that’s not good enough, said Moorcroft.

“Instead of finding a creative solution to the challenge of getting licensed oil-burner mechanics to rural communities, the government is taking the easy way out by lowering the safety standards for all Yukoners.”

The government also plans to make smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all Yukon homes.