Territory still waiting on promised oil furnace rules

In May of 2013, the Yukon government announced to great fanfare that it had become the first jurisdiction in Canada to require carbon monoxide detectors in all residences with an oil furnace or attached garage.

In May of 2013, the Yukon government announced to great fanfare that it had become the first jurisdiction in Canada to require carbon monoxide detectors in all residences with an oil furnace or attached garage. The only problem is, it wasn’t true.

“I am very pleased to see this leading edge legislation passed, which put simply, will save lives,” said then-Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor in the 2013 press release. “It is my hope that other jurisdictions will follow our lead by requiring the use of carbon monoxide detectors.”

While the government had passed legislation to require the detectors in homes, those laws would not come into force until associated regulations had been drafted approved. That step has yet to be completed, nearly two years later.

This week the government announced that it is consulting Yukoners on regulations that, when approved, will require carbon monoxide detectors in residences with an oil furnace or attached garage.

In the meantime at least one province has surpassed us.

Ontario’s carbon monoxide detector law came into force in October 2014.

Multiple requests to interview the minister of Community Services this week were denied or ignored.

“Preparing regulations takes time and requires considerable effort to ensure that proposed regulations are clear and legally robust,” a spokesperson for the department wrote in an email.

“We anticipate having the new law in force later this year. However, there remain several steps required to make it happen. Once we have reviewed the feedback from the consultation, we will review the proposed regulations to see what changes, if any, may be needed and then the regulations will come forward to cabinet for final approval.”

The regulations set out penalties of up to $1,000 for failure to install or maintain a carbon monoxide detector.

They also set up the rules for a registry that will keep track of licensed oil burner mechanics in the territory.

Under the proposed new rules, only Red Seal certified technicians will be permitted to install or modify oil furnaces.

The government’s actions on this issue were spurred by the tragic death of five people from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Porter Creek home in January 2012.

The fire marshal’s report showed that inspectors and servicepeople missed serious building code infractions with the furnace and chimney.

Although new rules have yet to come into effect, the government has made headway in terms of public awareness and carbon monoxide detector use, a cabinet spokesperson said in an email.

Thousands of detectors have been given away across the territory, according to the email.

The government has also worked in partnership with Yukon College to increase the number of certified mechanics in the territory.

Since 2012, 22 students have earned oil-burner mechanic certificates, and 12 have formally registered as apprentices, according to an email.

Students who earn a certificate must complete an apprenticeship and challenge the Red Seal exam before they are fully certified.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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