Landlords support new Sask. regulations requiring CO detectors in all residential properties

All residential buildings in the province will need to have carbon monoxide alarms by July 2022, according to new amendments to building regulation standards.

Between 2015 and 2019, 16 people in Sask. died from CO poisoning: Coroners Service

Carbon monoxide alarms, which could look like this battery-operated one, will be required in all residential buildings in the province. (Laura Meader/CBC)

New amendments to building standards will require all residential buildings in the province to have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors by July 1, 2022, government relations minister Don McMorris announced on Friday. 

Before McMorris' announcement, smoke alarms were only required in new residential buildings erected after 1988, and carbon monoxide alarms in residences built after 2009.

"The health, welfare and safety of residents in their homes is a priority in building safe communities and a strong Saskatchewan," McMorris said in a news release

"Requiring all residential buildings to have working [carbon monoxide] and smoke alarms ensures you and your family are better protected against these dangerous substances."

Landlords will need to comply

The change will require all landlords to make the change to varying extents said Cameron Choquette, Saskatchewan Landlord Association CEO. 

"It's certainly widening the scope of the standards to cover all multi-residential buildings, regardless of age and we are in definite support of that," said Choquette. 

Choquette said that, as stated in the amendments, only units that share a wall, floor or ceiling with a boiler room—which could release carbon monoxide into the home if it malfunctions—are required to have an alarm. 

Cameron Choquette is CEO of the Saskatchewan Landlords Association. (Chelsey Dawn Photography )

Choquette said there are about 83,000 rental housing units in the province, but wasn't sure how many of them would require an alarm. 

He doesn't expect the new policy will affect rental prices, as maintenance is often included in rental costs. 

There have been some supply chain issues with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Choquette said, leading some landlords to feel uneasy about the July deadline but said the province assured him municipalities would adopt a passive enforcement policy.

Effect of carbon monoxide and fires

Between 2018 and 2020, SaskEnergy reported an average of 1,200 carbon monoxide-related events annually. 

The Saskatchewan Coroners Service recorded 16 deaths from accidental poisoning between 2015 and 2019. 

The invisible, odourless, poisonous gas can lead to confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, brain damage and death depending on length and intensity of exposure.

Earlier in 2021, the City of Saskatoon considered revising bylaws to mandate carbon monoxide alarms in buildings after 29 people were hospitalized because of exposure in an apartment complex.

Residential fires can grow quickly and become fatally dangerous is less than two minutes. 

The Public Safety Agency noted that 440 fires (36 per cent of fired) in 2020-21 affected residential structures.