Hundreds of Quebec schools still don't have a carbon monoxide detector

A year after more than 40 children and teachers were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning at a LaSalle elementary school, one in five schools still don't have a detector.

Government made detectors mandatory after incident at LaSalle school last year

A carbon monoxide leak from a faulty heating system at École des Découvreurs in Montreal's LaSalle borough sent 35 children and eight adults to hospital last year. (Radio-Canada)

Despite being mandatory, one in five schools in Quebec still do not have a carbon monoxide detector, Radio-Canada has learned.

This comes a year after more than 40 children and teachers were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning at a LaSalle elementary school.

On Jan. 14, 2019, about 300 students and staff were evacuated from École des Découvreurs after a faulty heating system caused a carbon monoxide leak. It was later revealed that the school did not have a detector.

That incident prompted the Quebec government to issue a directive last October, ordering every teaching institution with a "combustion appliance" (such as a gas-based heating system or stove) to have a detector in place by Nov. 15.

However, the education ministry said that 20 per cent of the schools with a combustion system had not yet installed any carbon monoxide detectors.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said finding contractors to install the detectors has proven difficult.

Last year, the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board — which is responsible for École des Découvreurs — bought 700 and installed residential-type detectors in their buildings.

The English Montreal School Board told CBC that every building that requires a detector has one. 

The Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) bought over 1,400, installing them at a cost of about $200,000.

The board's assistant general director Lucie Painchaud said the detectors are working as they should. She said a carbon monoxide alarm was triggered at an elementary school last spring.

"The janitor was able to detect the situation before children even arrived at the school," she said.

Private schools are excluded from the directive.


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