Province fights back against carbon monoxide; Hawk

Ernie Hardeman, the MPP for Oxford, made a stop at Barrhaven’s newest fire station at Greenbank and Cambrian roads on Jan. 14 to talk about the Hawkins Gignac Act, which makes it mandatory for all homes in Ontario to have carbon monoxide detectors.

Hardeman said Barrhaven was his 15th stop since the bill become law in November. Each time he was accompanied by a gift from the Insurance Bureau of Canada – 100 carbon monoxide detectors, worth approximately $60 each.

Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean-Carleton, said Hardeman fought tirelessly for the bill that would “save people’s lives.” The private members bill was first introduced in 2008, following the death of Laurie Hawkins (née Gignac), her husband Richard Hawkins and their children Cassandra and Jordan.

“The family went to the hospital complaining about flu-like symptoms and were sent home,” Hardeman said, adding a blocked vent in the fireplace was what caused the carbon monoxide poisoning and ultimately took their lives.

When inhaled, it inhibits the blood’s ability to absorb and transport oxygen throughout the body. Eventually, vital organs including the brain are deprived of oxygen and become damaged. Minor symptoms can include nausea, headaches and dizziness. It can also cause vomiting and unconsciousness.

Four Ottawa residents were taken to hospital after exposure to the invisible gas and a Sandy Hill apartment complex was evacuated on Jan. 5 because of carbon monoxide Hardeman said the numbers show that there are 12 deaths in Ontario every year due to the silent killer.

“It doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it means in the five years it has taken me to get the bill pass 60 people have died,” he said.

Before the law was passed, only homes built after 2001 were required to have a carbon monoxide detector. Now all homes will have one.

Bay Ward Coun. and chair of the community and protective services committee, Mark Taylor, said the city will finD homes for all of the donated carbon monoxide detectors.

“As fire services go to schools or other community events they will be informing residents about the need for detectors,” Taylor said.

Sean Tracey, the assistant deputy fire chief, said fire services is still working out how to distribute the donated detectors. “They will definitely be in homes before their expiry date,” he said.

Hardeman said the law helps to clear up who’s responsible for the installation of the device in a landlord-tenant relationship.

“Before it was put into law, no one was sure who needed to put one in, landlords often thought it was the tenants responsibility and vice versa,” he said.

Part of the bill deals with an awareness week around first responder personnel.

“The point is to get the message out there and prevent further tragedies,” he said.