For immediate release
May 3, 2023
VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley, is calling on the BC NDP to adopt clean air standards for indoor public spaces.
“Places like schools, hospitals, public transit, community centres, and libraries should be safe places to congregate,” said MLA Furstenau. “Clean air is incredibly important in preventing the transmission of disease and stopping the harms that come from air pollution, including wildfire smoke.
“Poor indoor air quality can lead to headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness and nausea. Even worse, COVID-19 and wildfire smoke are shown to have damaging and lasting impacts on heart health.
“We know that one in ten people may develop long-COVID and the damaging vascular and psychological impacts from it. After the events of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing wildfire seasons, it’s clear that now is the time to create standards for clean and safe indoor air.”
- In March 2023, NDP MPPs in Ontario tabled a Private Member’s Bill to create indoor clean air standards. This bill would convene an Advisory Committee on clean air that would advise the government on ventilation, filtration, and other methods to reduce airborne transmission of diseases. The work would focus on saving lives due to the provincial government “irresponsibly [removing] mandatory masking in public indoor spaces.”
- In April, a motion to debate the importance of indoor air standards was led by a Liberal MLA from New Brunswick. The motion included creating a plan to monitor, report, and improve air quality systems to mitigate the risks of airborne illnesses.
- Outdoor air is regulated by the provincial government through the Environmental Management Act and the Waste Discharge Regulation. The provincial government has the authority to set outdoor air quality standards and guidelines, and municipal and regional governments have the authority to create bylaws for outdoor air. Indoor air quality, however, is largely unregulated.
- According to Health Canada, indoor air pollution can be up to five times worse than outdoor air pollution. Vancouver Coastal Health estimates that air pollution costs BC at minimum $14 billion in health costs every year.
B.C. Green Caucus
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