Quebec to require gas detectors in all schools after carbon monoxide scare
Education minister takes action after dozens sickened by carbon monoxide in a Montreal elementary school
The Quebec government says all schools and school boards will be required to have carbon monoxide detectors after a carbon monoxide leak in a Montreal elementary school earlier this week sickened dozens of students and staff.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge sent an official communication to the entire education network, asking school officials to confirm if they have gas detectors by Tuesday.
School officials are also being told to test the air quality in buildings and inspect their fuel-burning furnaces quickly and send the results to the ministry.
As it stands, schools are not legally obliged to have gas detectors, the ministry says, but a new regulation will change that — and require they be inspected annually.
Roberge said he wants schools to have the detectors before they become a requirement.
The minister says the incident at the school on Monday prompted the province's quick response.
"An event of this kind has never happened in our community and I hope that this does not happen again," Roberge said in a statement.
Speaking on Radio-Canada's Gravel le matin, Roberge said the new regulation will cover all educational institutions, including universities and CEGEPs.
"I want parents to be reassured that the government of Quebec is working on this," he said.
"We are not taking half measures. We do not assume this situation will resolve itself on its own."
School evacuated after carbon monoxide leak
Des Découvreurs school, in LaSalle, was evacuated after about 50 students and staff became ill due to a carbon monoxide leak caused by a faulty furnance system.
Nine students lost consciousness while other victims experienced feelings of nausea and dizziness.
According to the Education Ministry, some symptoms were observed in students and staff on Jan. 10 and 11. As of Thursday, the ministry says, one student still has persistent symptoms.
School was closed until Wednesday. Parents protested its reopening.
The day after the LaSalle school was evacuated, the head of Montreal's Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board said all of the board's schools will be inspected and gas detectors installed.
"We are going through all of our buildings and checking them out," chair Diane Lamarche-Venne told reporters Tuesday.
"If schools are found to not have detectors in place, they will be installed."
With files from Radio-Canada’s Gravel le matin