Yukon commits to furnace regulation

The Yukon government has committed to regulating oil-burning furnaces in the territory. Elaine Taylor, minister of community services, says she hopes that new legislation or regulatory changes will be tabled in the spring 2013 sitting of the legislature.

The Yukon government has committed to regulating oil-burning furnaces in the territory.

Elaine Taylor, minister of community services, says she hopes that new legislation or regulatory changes will be tabled in the spring 2013 sitting of the legislature.

The changes will require that only certified oil-burner mechanics install new furnaces or modify existing ones, according to a press release.

Every Yukon home will also be required to have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.

However, certification will not be required to perform annual required maintenance.

Through public consultations over the last two months, officials heard that requiring certification for routine maintenance would be an onerous condition given the lack of certified professionals, especially in the communities, said Taylor.

Opposition MLAs have criticized the government for taking so long to act on this, given that several reports have been filed as far back as 2007 detailing the need to regulate furnaces.

The issue heated up in January when five people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Porter Creek home. The fire marshal’s report of that tragedy showed that inspectors and servicepeople missed serious building code infractions with the furnace and chimney.

Along with the regulatory changes, the government has committed to encourage training programs to certify more oil-furnace mechanics in the territory.

A course is expected to run through the Yukon College in May, said Scott Kent, minister of education and housing.

There are currently 15 apprentice mechanics in the territory who would be eligible for the training, he added.

He doesn’t know how many certified furnace mechanics there currently are in the Yukon, he said.

The government would also provide financial assistance to students who wish to get certified Outside, said Kent.

The territory also plans to run an extensive public relations campaign about furnace safety. The campaign began with activities as part of the recent fire prevention week, said Kent.

Six hundred carbon monoxide detectors were purchased by the Housing Corporation to distribute to Yukoners, he said.

Some may still be available at community Housing Corporation offices, or at the Whitehorse food bank.

A new website will be unveiled over the next few months detailing the steps Yukoners can make to ensure their furnace is safe.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com