Toronto seeks to record elderly tenants’ bedrooms for CO

Justin Tang reports from Toronto, Ontario.

On the night of 16 December 2014, hundreds of people were killed by a massive fire at the upscale Flats apartment complex in what was then called King’s Cross.

During the blaze, an 84-year-old resident of the Flats is said to have lit a cigarette inside the building and the resulting fire quickly engulfed parts of it.

However, investigators didn’t find any proof that the elderly resident had put out the cigarette himself. Toronto’s coroner’s office declared the man a “homicide victim”.

In June 2017, the city council of Toronto announced a policy that would require anyone living in a high rise in the city to register with the city.

There are four such buildings in the city and the City’s Public Health department began sending the letter to residents in November.

The policy requires residents to give the city information on smoke alarms and CO feedback batteries in their homes.

If a resident doesn’t register with the city, if they break the rules, they could face a fine of up to $5000.

The policy was designed to address several concerns about the care of elderly people and child care.

In May, a report revealed that more than two-thirds of 10- and 11-year-olds who died in a heatwave in Toronto last year lived in high-rise apartments and in most cases the children’s families lacked smoke alarms in their homes.

In April, the city, city council and the then-health department agreed to have a smoke alarm in every high-rise apartment in the city.

However, some privacy advocates, including Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, say this deal struck with the city was secretive and shouldn’t have been rushed.

“We had a lot of public discussion, there was a whole lot of public engagement – that was an important part of the whole process,” Wong-Tam told CBC News.

“A lot of people put a lot of work into making sure this was done right, and we just feel that the whole process, that process was pretty rushed.”

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City council said a previous review, conducted by a committee, had found that many of the residents were unaware of or didn’t have a need for smoke alarms.

On Monday, a councillor of the Canadian city said the residents should have registered for the CO policy.

“In order to collect CO feedback batteries, both the city and the condo board have to be aware that people are registering for CO,” Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said.

“It’s not like for some reason they just don’t care, it’s not like they just don’t want a CO test, they want to be part of the CO testing process.”

Toronto’s Public Health department said the hearing room it was using was small and the council was holding the matter up.

They say other venues have to be discovered, including the other nine high-rise buildings that they’ll monitor over the next year.

The Public Health department says they will be contacting every condo board in the city on Wednesday to confirm that residents will receive details about the CO policy and the listening devices.

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