QUEEN'S PARK - Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman reintroduced The Hawkins-Gignac Act – a private member's bill to make carbon monoxide (CO) detectors mandatory in all Ontario homes – in the legislature on Thursday, Feb. 28.
The bill is named for Laurie (nee Gignac) and Richard Hawkins and their children, Cassandra and Jordan, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Woodstock home in 2008.
If passed in to law, the bill would require carbon monoxide alarms in all homes that have either a fuel burning appliance or an attached storage garage. In multi-residential buildings detectors would be required in suites with a fuel burning appliance or adjacent to a garage or service room with a fuel burning appliance. Currently detectors are only required in homes built after August 6, 2001.
“I am committed to this bill because it can and will save lives,” said Hardeman. “Since the legislature was prorogued, we had another carbon monoxide tragedy when a senior in Tiny Township was poisoned in his home just after Christmas.”
Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless so there is no way to know if the gas is building up in a home unless it is equipped with a CO alarm.
“That is what makes the gas so dangerous and this bill so necessary,” said Hardeman.
In January 2012, a family of four in Whitehorse, Yukon, and a boarder living in the house were killed by carbon monoxide due to a faulty chimney.
On February 16, 2013 the Government of Yukon announced legislation to require carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with a fuel burning appliance.
“I commend the Government of Yukon for taking steps to prevent more tragedies, but I’m disheartened to compare it to Ontario and see how difficult the process has been here,” said Hardeman.
This is the fourth time Hardeman has introduced the Hawkins Gignac Act. The most recent was passed by the Legislative Committee on Social Policy with all party support. But it died on the order paper when the legislature was prorogued in October.
“I am encouraged every time someone tells me they have installed a carbon monoxide alarm in their family home,” Hardeman said. “I hope that rather than waiting for this bill to pass more people will protect themselves and their families by installing a carbon monoxide detector.”