Carbon monoxide alarms disconnected in Toronto as city council pushes for extension of life-saving policy

About 150,000 residents of Toronto have had their carbon monoxide detectors disconnected by the city since 2010, the years when the policy was introduced, according to a report published this week in The Globe and Mail by reporter Heather Scoffield.

The report comes three months after the death of Toronto’s first teen in 17 years due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and four months after Toronto’s mandatory CO protocol (or CO-19, which also mandates most households have alarms in their homes) was adopted as a national standard.

The report also states that, as of Sept. 30, 2014, 54,376 alarms were disconnected, despite the fact that the city was promised to replace all alarms that have fallen into disrepair. But The Globe and Mail article notes that, in the nearly four years since the protocol went into effect, the city has replaced only 10,104 alarms, in spite of the $520,000 investment from the city council.

On Monday, the vice-chair of Toronto Public Health urged Toronto city council to retain its recently approved CO protocol, saying that cancelling the rule “could be a dangerous move.”

According to Canadian Press, Councillor Josh Matlow said he is planning to speak to council about extending the timeline on returning all alarms to their pre-CO-19 operating status. The clock runs out on the city’s CO policy on Jan. 1, 2020.

“I also think it’s important to look at the investment – not just the policy itself, but how much money we’ve spent, and over what time period,” Mr. Matlow said, according to CP. “It’s safe to say that we’ve invested $520,000 since CO-19 took effect … [It would] be a huge waste of money to extend it again for another three years.”

Unbelievably, this is not the first time a Canadian health policy has come under fire by its own vice-chair. In February 2018, when Ontario’s first-ever supervised injection site opened in the city of Toronto, the vice-chair of Toronto’s board of health voiced concern that the policy was unsafe.

“It’s illegal, illegal, illegal,” said Dr. David McKeown, to CBC News at the time. “Because it’s medical practice is a big reason for it.”

“The health board is not going to be the people who make the policy on supervised injection sites,” Dr. McKeown continued. “It’s the province.”

London, Ont., is Canada’s only other large city that has a policy mandating every resident have a carbon monoxide detector.

Read the full article at The Globe and Mail.


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