Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Death certificates or permits?


Yukoners hate legislation.
We're told this all the time ... Yukoners don't want helmet, ATV or oil-burning-stove laws.
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I have to wonder if Valerie, Bradley, Gabriel or Rebekah Rusk or Donald McNamee hated legislation?
It is impossible to say, of course, because they are dead.
In a story that made the national news because it is so bizarre and horrible, they were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their home.
Such poisonings rarely happen in Canada. But you know, it has a far better chance of happening in the Yukon because this place has no minimum safety standards for oil-furnace installation.
So 99 per cent of the territory's oil-burning furnaces have been installed wrong. This according to Rod Corea, of NRG Resources, who has travelled the territory since 2007 examining the issue and warning the government there is a problem
Almost 10 per cent of the territory's oil-burning furnaces posed a hazard to people living those houses, he said. (See http://yukon-news.com/news/27056/ and this video link: http://youtu.be/LUwc9RE7yXM
Contractors are not fixing problems, or are creating new ones. And new installations are as poor as, or worse than older installations, said Corea in his report.
And what has the government done about it? Almost nothing.
There has been no public education program warning of the dangers of improperly installed furnaces.
There has been no information to industry stakeholders.
The college launched an oil-burner technician course, but, after training six certified mechanics, the course was cancelled after federal funding dried up.
This is a problem because there's a clear shortage of qualified installers in the territory. As recently as 2008, there were only 14. As of this writing, the government didn't know how many there were -- it hadn't taken the time to figure out whether there were more than 14, or less.
But what's the impetus for home heating companies to hire properly trained employees? There isn't one.
Currently, anyone can be an oil-furnace installer.
The government allows the industry to regulate itself and has no penalties for improperly installed oil furnaces.
The industry would benefit from such legislation, which would level the playing field.
But, compared to gas and propane furnaces, there's a shocking lack of rules for the oil-burner industry, which make up 80 per cent of the market.
And inspections are voluntary. And, if you don't get one, there are no penalties.
The government decided, in 2009, that self regulation was still the way to go ­-- a common approach for this Wild West government.
Corea has recommended consistent rules and inspections.
And when he filed his latest report in 2010, which backed up the previous findings in 2008 and 2007, the government buried it.
After all, the report was disturbing.
It might have raised questions, forced government to regulate the industry and start to inspect homes more rigorously.
And everyone hates legislation, right?
It would be nice to ask the Rusk family about that.
But, of course, we can't.
The government recently offered its condolences to their surviving relatives.
From where I'm sitting, conducting an inspection and issuing a permit before their death would have been preferable. (RM)

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