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Carbon Monoxide Safety - Backgrounder

Archived Backgrounder

Carbon Monoxide Safety - Backgrounder

Ministry of the Solicitor General

Effective Oct. 15, 2014, Ontario has made carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in all homes and other residential buildings.

Carbon Monoxide 101

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood have insufficient air to burn completely. This can happen in any appliance or device that burns these fuels such as a stove, furnace, fireplace, hot water heater, vehicle engine, portable generator.

Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. In high concentrations, it can be fatal.

The Case for Change

More than 50 people die each year from CO poisoning in Canada, including an average of 11 people per year in Ontario (Parachute Canada statistics). Our government continues to work with its partners to improve safety from fire and CO for Ontarians.

CO detectors/alarms have been mandatory in new homes and other residential buildings since 2001 through the Ontario Building Code. While the Ontario Building Code applies to new construction and renovations, the Ontario Fire Code applies to existing buildings. Amendments to the Fire Code will establish retrofit requirements for CO detectors/alarms in existing homes, consistent with the Building Code's requirements for new buildings.

A CO Technical Advisory Committee led by the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management agreed on a number of recommendations related to the installation and maintenance of CO detectors/alarms. Based on these recommendations, proposed amendments to the Fire Code were drafted.

These amendments were posted on the Regulatory Registry for public feedback for a period of 45 days, and established provincial retrofit requirements for CO detectors/alarms consistent with those required in the 2001 Ontario Building Code.

Bill 77 (Hawkins Gignac Act [Carbon Monoxide Safety], 2013)

Bill 77 (Hawkins Gignac Act [Carbon Monoxide Safety], 2013), amended the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, to allow the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to regulate the presence of unsafe levels of carbon monoxide and require the use of CO detectors/alarms. Specifically, the Ontario Fire Code, a regulation established under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, may now be amended to include requirements to lessen the risk created by the presence of unsafe levels of CO.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

CO detectors/alarms and smoke detectors/alarms are two important safety features that help keep our families safe.

CO alarms range in price from approximately $26 to over $100 depending on whether they are hard-wired, battery operated or plug-in and whether they have additional features (i.e. battery back-up, digital display, etc.). The average mid-range plug-in/battery back-up model is between $35 and $40 per unit.

Landlords and home owners will be responsible for complying with the requirements under the Fire Code. 

CO safety is a shared responsibility. Ontarians will be encouraged to learn about the risks associated with CO inhalation and install CO alarms as required by the new regulation.

Media Contacts

  • Lauren Callighen

    Minister's Office


  • Carol Gravelle

    Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management