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September 28, 2012

Proposed Ontario law would require installation of fire sprinklers in all retirement homes

Politicians from all three provincial parties recently spoke in favour of Bill 54, which if passed into law would amend the Ontario Fire Protection and Prevention Act to require the retrofitting of retirement homes with automatic sprinklers by 2018.

The private member’s bill, which passed second reading at Queen’s Park in Toronto Sept. 20, was referred to the Ontario Legislature Standing Committee on Justice Policy. It was originally introduced by Paul Miller, the New Democratic Party MPP for Hamilton-Stoney Creek.

“Bill 54, the Fire Protection and Prevention Amendment Act (Retrofitting of Retirement Homes with Automatic Sprinklers), 2012, is before this Legislature today, almost 24 months since the issue first saw the light of the legislative day,” Miller said Thursday, referring to Bill 92, which he tabled two years ago but died on the order paper. “Since 1980, there have been 48 deaths (in Ontario) of seniors due to fire and smoke inhalation. This is the worst record in North America.”

DCN did not attend the legislature and all quotes are taken from Hansard.

Miller noted five separate coroner’s inquests “have called for the immediate installation of automatic sprinklers in every retirement home in Ontario.”

Liberal MPP Mario Sergio, who represents the Toronto riding of York West, noted Liberal cabinet ministers support sprinklers in seniors’ homes but noted the government is waiting for “technical reports” related to the bill.

“While the bill calls for an amendment to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, it also requires some amendment and changes to the Ontario Fire Code,” Sergio said. “One cannot work without the other. The technical consultation, I hope, will bring forward those recommendation so that we can take a look at them through the public input process which we hope this bill will go through and carry on, and we can have more input.”

Miller said the technical consultation recommendations could form the basis of regulations associated with a new law.

“Should the technical consultation issue its report at the end of October, Bill 54 could move to the standing committee agenda immediately after that,” he said. “Considering that the majority of the information normally garnered through the public hearings has already been presented, studied and carefully reported through the technical consultation process, I will recommend that the public hearings and regulations process be streamlined.”

Several Progressive Conservative MPPs voiced their support for the bill.

“This bill calls for the implementation date of January 1, 2018,” said Laurie Scott, the PC MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, northwest of Peterborough. “That’s a ways away, but it’s enough time to give the retirement home owners and operators five years to comply with the legislation, which seems prudent and reasonable, certainly, in my mind.”

John O’Toole, PC MPP for Durham, east of Toronto, said the government should introduce a tax break to help pay for construction of new systems.

“Depreciate the cost of fire suppression in the homes and give them a tax credit for it,” he said. “Give them a full tax writeoff over a year or two for all the expenses that would be put in place for fire prevention.”

DCN DIGITAL MEDIA

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