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An open letter to the Government of Ontario

May 16, 2023

To: The Provincial Government of Ontario

Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education

Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour 

Dear Premier Ford, Dr. Moore, Hon. Ministers Lecce, Jones, and McNaughton

We, the members of Ontario School Safety (OSS), are calling on the Ontario Provincial Government to test, monitor, and improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools and school buses – because all students in Ontario have a right to a safe and stable, in-person education. As concerned parents, healthcare workers, education workers*, scientists, and community advocates, we are committed to making schools safer from airborne pollutants that can trigger allergies and asthma and cause illnesses like COVID-19, Influenza A, and RSV.

We have known since the 1990s that IAQ in schools did not meet the levels needed to decrease risks from allergens, airborne pollutants, and airborne diseases, nor did systems operate at a level that helps students’ academic performance. [1][2] The pandemic has shown us the importance of IAQ, and that current IAQ maintenance measures in schools don’t guarantee the safety of the air breathed by students and education workers on school buses and in schools. Ventilation plays a key role in IAQ – where there is better ventilation, there are fewer absences and less COVID-19 spread in schools. 

The current status of IAQ in schools and school buses across the province is an urgent issue that impacts the health of our children and education workers, which is why we’re asking to meet with Premier Ford, Dr. Moore, Hon. Ministers Lecce, Jones, and McNaughton as soon as possible, and preferably within the next 30 days, to discuss the following measures:

  • Thorough IAQ testing by ventilation engineers, as recommended by Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) and as carried out at Queen’s Park in your own offices.

  • Installation of CO2 monitors, with visible/accessible displays, in every bus, classroom, and shared space to ensure ventilation systems are working as they should.

  • Where IAQ testing reveals a problem, updating and/or repairing HVAC systems to meet the standards recommended by experts in the field. Until repairs have been completed, we expect the government to supply and educate users on the use of temporary air quality equipment, like HEPA filters.

Students and education workers spend approximately 6-8 hours per day, close to 200 days per year inside schools.[3] Canadian Occupational Health and Safety guidelines have recommendations regarding IAQ levels in workplaces – including schools.[4] However, without regular monitoring of IAQ, we don’t know if our school buses and buildings are putting our education staff and students at risk. 

Just as we have a right to clean drinking water, we should have a right to clean air. You, our government, have a duty to provide clean air in the spaces Ontario families depend on. Ensuring all students can access a high-quality, inclusive, and equitable in-person education should be our top priority – improving IAQ helps achieve that goal. This will make schools less vulnerable to closures during airborne pandemics, which is something that everyone should agree on.

A big part of a safer schools plan will be listening to experts from both inside and outside of the classroom. To that end, we ask the government to fund an air quality maintenance committee composed of experts like air quality/ventilation engineers, education workers/education workers, and infectious disease specialists. In order to not waste the time and resources of the committee, we propose that going forward, the provincial government be required to publish and apply the recommendations of the committee, and provide regular progress updates to the people of Ontario – similar to the Missing and Missed Implementation Team and as outlined in Bill 86.

When cigarette smoke was found to be harmful to IAQ and our health, we took measures to protect the public. The steps taken to reduce the harms of cigarette smoke demonstrate that when we know better, we do better. Let’s embrace what we have learned about the importance of IAQ, along with other ways to mitigate harm. Together – as a society, and you as our government – we need to embrace the precautionary principle and our duty to protect the most vulnerable, particularly our children and youth. With improved IAQ, along with publicly available air quality data and enforcement of IAQ standards in line with the recommendations from OSPE as outlined in Bill 86, we can get there.

This “Made in Ontario” solution for safer schools benefits everyone – fewer work absences, decreased strain on our healthcare system and budget, improved academic performance in math, science, and reading, and a huge step forward towards a pandemic-proof Ontario. Ultimately, high-quality indoor air must be a core component of any plan to ensure a safe, stable, in-person learning environment.

We welcome your reply with a date for meeting at your earliest convenience – because our students can’t wait and they deserve better. If we do not receive a response by May 26, 2023, we will assume you are choosing not to act, and we will proceed with next steps to ensure all of Ontario has access to clean indoor air.

We look forward to working with you to ensure the safety of students and education workers in all Ontario schools.


Ontario School Safety

*On June 12, 2023, we changed "educators" to "education workers" to better encompass everyone who is employed in the education system.


If you would like to be included below, please fill out this form to endorse this letter and show your support for improving indoor air quality in all Ontario schools and school buses.


This open letter has been endorsed by the following:

Ontario - Organizations 

CUPE 4148

Earth Education League

Environmental Sensitivities Coalition of Canada

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)

London Health Coalition

Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition

SadieBelle Doula Care

Masks 4 Canada

Canada - Organizations

BC School Covid Tracker

Canadian Aerosol Transmission Coalition (CATC)

Protect our Province British Columbia (POP BC)

Protect our Province New Brunswick (POP NB)

Take Action Against Covid, Saskatchewan

Covid Long Haulers Support Group Canada

International - Organizations

Long Covid Advocacy, UK

Ontario - Individuals 

Kathryn Adams-Sloan, MSW, RSW, Chair of the Women’s Caucus to the Canadian Association for Social Work Education

Amie Archibald-Varley

Russell E. Bishop, PhD, Biochemistry and Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University 

Nancy Butcher, PhD, The Hospital for Sick Children 

Michelle Cohen, MD, CCFP, FCFP, Queen's University 

Elizabeth Courtney, Retired Teacher

Jennifer Daley-Stewart 

Ann Douglas, Author

Jonathan Douglas, PhD CPsych, Central Ontario Psychology

David Elfstrom, P.Eng

David Fisman, MD, MPH

Vicky Evans, Education Worker

Nahid Forsyth

Tahmineh Forsyth, OCT

Ashley Fox

Robert Graham, RRT/NRCP, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre

Sarena Gray

Amy Greer, BSc, MSc, PhD, University of Guelph

Christine Guptill, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), Associate Professor, University of Ottawa

David Hanwell, MSc, DVM, DVSc, DACLAM, University of Toronto

Franz Hochholdinger

Jennifer Irwin, PhD

Shoshanah Jacobs, PhD, University of Guelph 

Nili Kaplan-Myrth, MD, PhD

Debra Lefebvre, RN, BN, BA, MPA

Christopher Leighton, MD, FRCPC, Adjunct Professor, Department of Oncology, Western University

Mandy Masse

Jane E. McArthur, PhD

Devon McDonald, MD, FRCPC

Nancy Olivieri, MD, FRCPC

Tanya Pobuda, BJ, PMP, MA Prof. Comm, PhD, 

Marco Prado, PhD Full Professor Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Western Ontario 

Glen Pyle, PhD, University of Guelph 

Marilyn Raymer, PHN, Retired Public Health Nurse - Communicable Diseases

Dana Sawchuk, PhD, Wilfrid Laurier University

James Sessford, PhD, R.Kin, University Health Network

James Andrew Smith, PhD, York University's Lassonde School of Engineering

Elizabeth Stephenson, MD

Catherine Stratton, MPH, University of Toronto

Henry Swoboda, MD, Queen’s University

Krista Thompson, MHSc, ROH, CRSP

Ashleigh Tuite, PhD, MPH, MSc, University of Toronto

Birgit Umaigba, RN 

Sabina Vohra-Miller, Founder, Unambiguous Science

Maxim Voronov, PhD, Professor of Sustainability, Schulich School of Business, York University

Scott Weese, DVM DVSc DACVIM FCAHS, University of Guelph

Cheryl White, P.Eng

Brenna Wilson, Interior Decor 

Benjamin Wong, MPH

Dick Zoutman, MD

Catherine Clase, MD, McMaster Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment & Materials, McMaster Department of Medicine

Rose Gass RN BA MHST

Barry Deane, BSc, MSc, BEd

Leann Andrews

Gillian Stollery


Maithe Carvalho, PhD

Erin Maher CPA, CMA

David Christopher, MLS

Anibal H. Castillo, MSc, University of Guelph

Samiyah Aziz, OCT

Kathleen Waller

Prasanthi Vasanthakumar, Parent

Daisy Soderstrom, BEd, BA, Parent of child with autoimmune disorder, EA supporting a medically fragile student who is unable to wear a mask

Jessica Hughes 

Diane Hachem, LL.B

Lawrence Chung

Susana Molinolo

John Laver, PhD

Sharon Yeung

Thanh Hoang, MSc, SLP, CASPLO

Muriel Corbierre, PhD

Michael Boisvert, PhD

Virginia Zarifi, MA Clin Psych 

Andria Jones-Bitton, PhD, DVM

Jaclyn Livingstone

Emily Schooley, Actor and Filmmaker

Suzanne Vaisanen

Leanne Burnham

Sharon Anderson

Don Morrow, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Western Ontario

Aviva German, OCT

Catherine Hébert, MSW, RSW

Lital Duke, MSc, Speech-Language Pathologist 

Leah Ugulini, RDH

Brian McLachlan

Samantha Brimble, MSc

Cameron MacLeod, BCS

Andrew Dobbie BSc, BEd , OCT, Ontario Public School Teacher

Diana Chard, RD 

Susan Finley, BA, BEd, Retired Teacher

Rupinder Sahsi MD CCFP(EM), McMaster University

Erica Shiner

Mohammed Vepari

Andria Natale, BA, BEd, MA

Allene Scott

Dwight Williams

Marie Tattersall

Andrea Thomas DVM MSc PhD

Jennifer Green, BSc, MBA, PhD Candidate

Angela Nardozi, PhD, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Kelly McNeice 

Nancy Johnson, retired Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Heather McIntosh, Registered Physiotherapist 

Marie Snyder

Angie Caruso

Todd Green, Brock University

Geoff Boyd

Libia Saborido, PhD

Mark Hewitt, PhD, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University

Richelle Forsey, Parent

Peter Hodsman, MSW, RSW

Gisele Gordon

Evelyn Steinberg, Taxpayer

Murray McIsaac 

Trixie Doyle, former TDSB Trustee

Kimberley Da Ros

Maneesha Rajora

Nancy Strickler

Scott Strickler

Heather Pun

Kelly Lynch-pappas, Teacher

Kathleen Aldridge

John Dupuis, Librarian, York University

Stephen Flindall, MD, MSc

Andrea Coholic, MD, CCFP Family physician

Ruth Crawford, Concerned Taxpayer

Karen Wright 

Geoffrey P. Johnston, International Affairs Columnist

Rose S.

Alison Chafe, MBA

Erica Brandt

Sandra Thain

Nadia Bashir, PhD

Monica Mittal 

Kim Wright

Tanya Lee, MSc (Planning)

Kelly Laverty-Pagnan, BA, BEd, Elementary School Teacher

Michael Donaldson MRT (R)

Reagan Hicock

Alexandria Kerlow

Eric Kennedy, PhD, Associate Professor, Disaster & Emergency Management, York University

Bobby-Jo Latva-Aro, Registered Nurse

Lois Warbin 

Riaz Mohammed, OCT

Kay Sunahara PhD

Christine Havill

Parent and Youth Volunteer

Jason Coward

Christa Hall

Barbara Kerr

Cyndi Cressman 

Kate Steinmann, MA, PhD

Shannon Trail

Anna Drake, PhD, Political Science, University of Waterloo

Patricia Murray

Ruth Anne Freeborn

Jean Charles Bernard

Genny Coe

Sandra Tierney

Marnie Eves, Parent

Shanon Kerr BSc, MRT(R)

Lauren Stollery BSCN

Diana Warbin

Joanna Dudek, PhD

Julie Sherwood

Staci Martin

Ingrid Waisgluss 

Cori Lee Marvin, artist

Sandra Hughes

Alexander Nathan

Jason Elliott

Karyn Hegarty

MP McConnell

Liana Kay

Steffen Graether, PhD, University of Guelph

Daniel Gillis, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Guelph

Naomi Ives Peak, MSW 

Angela McLean, OCT Diploma of Education

Catherine McNair

Siobhan NiLoughlin

Jessica Eitel Matwick, MN, RN

Megan Kulkarni

Dr. Kristina Llewellyn, PhD, OCT, University of Waterloo (Renison)

Jess Clausen

Rebecca Vallee

John Parente, OCT

Chrystale Ladouceur

Diane Sullivan

Sonia Labbé, MSc

Barbara Koelewijn

Karen Hung, BVSc (Veterinarian)

Jaimi Long

Judy Woods PhD, OCT (retired), RN

Heidi Bilas, RN MScA, Occupational Health Nurse

Catherine Landry

Michael Bilas Bsc.PT, MBA

Maria Ali

Miriam Paton, MSc (Physics), Parent

Taylor Myers

Caroline Paton

Jennifer Paton Smith

Emily R Giddings, Grandmother

Retired, BA History & Political Science, Bishop's University, Parent & Grandparent

Tricia Pocock BA, BEd, MEd, OCT

Jana Reid

Lytton Patrick Brown

Lorna Gillen, MD

Shane Smith, Parent/Taxpayer/Small Business Owner

Ryan Tennant, BASc, MASc, PhD Student (Engineering)

Karen McKenna-Meger, MSW, RSW

Angie Bennett, MPH

Caitlin Beukema, MSW, RSW

Mallory Maynard

Jenny Zollerano

Susan Lemelin

Jodi Morrison

Melanie Ritchie

Tim Abray, PhD candidate, good governance advocate

Neil Bowen

Alec Butler, Taxpayer

Hilary Brown, PhD, University of Toronto

Barb Collins

Jan McCormick, Retired Teacher

Sandra Armstrong, Retired teacher working LTO or supply

Jennifer Esmail, PhD

Christina Koch

Andrea Thomas, DVM, MSc, PhD (Epidemiology)

Elizabeth Olin

Colleen O’Connor

Margaret Karrel, Grandparent

Jules Tupker

B. F. Prince

Laurie Hellens

Myra Piirtoniemi, Ontario North Family Councils Network

Ashley Giddings, BA, BEd, MEd

Ivan Silver, MD FRCP(C), University of Toronto

Karen Sourtzis, RECE, retired

Corry Nicholls


Joan Telfer Faux, MSc, BEd, Community Advocate and Parent

Shannon Gunn, Elementary School Teacher Peel District School Board

Mignon Morphet

Karen Steward, BA, JD, lawyer

Amit Arya, MD (CCFP), FCFP

B. Friesz, Parent

Tamara Nedd-Roderique, BSc, MSc, BEd, OCT, Ontario Public School Teacher

Lindsay Pratt

Aaron Hirshman, PCP-AIV

Jessica Cowan-Dewar, MSc

April McDonald, OCT

JC Sulzenko, Grandparent

Emily Choy, PhD

Elizabeth Mui MD, CCFP (COE)

Robin Richardson, mom of three

Samir Acharya

Breanne Anderson, HBSc, MSc, RN

Deborah Cecconi

Susan Joudrey, PhD

Andrea Chittle, MD, CCFP

T. Ryan Gregory, PhD, University of Guelph

Nancy Cecchini

Natalie Bourre, BSc, MBA, DBA candidate

Sofia Martimianakis, MA, Industry Reporter, Editor, PV Buzz Media

Jean McGilveray

Mark Adams

Stephen Burke, CEO and Researcher at Magic Innovations Inc.

Shannon Webb-Tabak

Sue Gowans, BA, BScPT, PhD

Mathieu Landry, OCT

Sandra Huh, Parent and parent co-chair of York Communities for Public Education

Allison Murphy

Shelly Findlay

Mary Rancourt

Francesca-Jane Stevenson

Canada - Individuals

Lauralee Dukeshire, MD, CCFP

Lyne Filiatrault, MD Retired Emergency Physician, Protect our Province BC

Malgorzata Gasperowicz, PhD, Developmental Biologist

Jennifer Heighton, Safe Schools Coalition BC

Susan Metzger

Matthew Oliver, P.Eng

Laurence Svirchev, CIH

Mark Ungrin, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Calgary

Theresa Brown

Erica Olson

International - Individuals

Joaquín Beltrán, Speak Up America

Lisa Foreman, APRN-C

Michael Hoerger, PhD, MSCR, MBA, Director of Health Psychology, Tulane University

Asit Kumar Mishra, PhD (HVAC&R), University of Galway

Kimberly Prather, PhD (Distinguished Professor), University of California, San Diego

Jim Rosenthal, BA, MA, Air Relief Technologies, Inc Lindsay Humphreys, School Psychologist, Colorado

Colin Kinner, Director Clean Air Accelerator, Australia

Conor Browne, MA, Biological Risk Consultant, Northern Ireland


Please fill out this form if you would like to endorse this letter and show your support for improving indoor air quality in all Ontario schools and school buses.


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