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, Opposition 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 MPP's outlined their 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."