NDP MPPs pitch solution for better air quality in schools and child care facilities

QUEEN’S PARK - Joined by parents, public health experts, child care workers, Ontario School Safety, and the chair of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers Sub-Committee on Air Quality, NDP Education critic Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West—Nepean), and MPPs Teresa Armstrong (London—Fanshawe), and Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park) announced their bill on air quality in schools and child care facilities, the Improving Air Quality for Our Children Act.

“We know that good air quality in schools improves children’s health and well-being, reduces the spread of airborne infections, and boosts children’s test scores, yet the Ontario government has refused to set air quality standards or require any kind of measurement or reporting,” said Pasma. “We believe that children in Ontario deserve better. They deserve safe child care spaces and schools where they can learn in the best possible conditions.” 

“We had a vivid reminder last year with high pediatric admission rates that just because respiratory illnesses are a common part of childhood doesn’t mean they aren’t serious and won’t have long-term impacts,” noted Armstrong. “We should be doing what we can to protect the littlest members of our community, and this is a measure that doesn’t require any change in behaviour on the part of kids themselves, parents, or staff.” 

The NDP’s solution is a three-part plan to improve air quality in publicly-funded schools and licensed child care facilities: 

  • Mandatory installation of CO2 monitors in all classrooms and congregate settings
  • Public reporting of average CO2 levels for the occupied hours of the room
  • Development of an Air Quality Action Plan with actions to be implemented when CO2 levels approach or exceed a maximum threshold.   

"Other jurisdictions have already taken steps to ensure measurement and reporting of air quality in classrooms," said Karpoche. "This is a simple measure to protect children's health and well-being and improve learning outcomes." 
 

ADDITIONAL QUOTES   

Joey Fox, chair, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) Sub-Committee on Air Quality 

“Clean and healthy indoor air is not just a matter of comfort; it's a fundamental right that affects the well-being of every Canadian, especially our children. The same way we care about clean water, we should care about clean air. As advocates for engineering excellence and public safety, OSPE applauds the introduction of this private members bill on school indoor air quality. It's a significant step towards ensuring safe and breathable environments for our children, and we stand in support of measures that prioritize the health of our communities.”  

Krista Wylie, Fix our Schools   

"Fix Our Schools has been asking the provincial government for years to develop and implement a “Standard of Good Repair” for Ontario’s publicly funded schools, which would include transparent metrics by which to measure the achievement of these standards. Classroom air quality is an integral part of ensuring safe, healthy classrooms the provide environments conducive to learning. Research and our recent experience with the COVID pandemic clearly shows that air quality impacts the health, attendance and learning outcomes of students. Therefore, we are very pleased to support MPP Pasma’s Air Quality Private Members Bill and look forward to a time when air quality is regularly tracked, reported publicly, and held to an actual standard.”   

Ontario School Safety  

"Clean, healthy air is a human right — just like having clean drinking water. Improving indoor air quality in public buildings, especially in schools and on school buses is common sense and is needed now more than ever in the face of airborne illnesses and declining outdoor air quality. We at Ontario School Safety fully support any policy that is backed by science, supported by ventilation engineers like those at OSPE, and that moves indoor air quality to the forefront — for our kids, education workers, public healthcare system, and our communities." 

Carolyn Ferns, Ontario Coalition or Better Child Care 

"An air quality standard is an important part of providing a safe environment for our youngest learners in Ontario's early learning and child care spaces. This Bill will ensure that child care programs are taken into consideration and supported to improve air quality." 

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