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December 19, 2013

RE: Bill 135: An Act to protect pupils with asthma (Ryan’s Law)


The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario


Dear Premier,

As President and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association and on behalf of the Chairs of the Ontario Thoracic Society and the Ontario Respiratory Care Society, the professional bodies of the Ontario Lung Association, we are writing to urge you to put your support behind Ryan’s Law to help protect school-aged children living with asthma.

Approximately one in five, or half a million Ontario children are currently living with asthma, a chronic lung disease that can make breathing difficult and can in some instances, lead to death.  This was the case for young Ryan Gibbons, a 12-year-old grade 7 student who went to school on October 9, 2012 and didn’t return home. Ryan suffered an asthma attack at school and was unable to reach his rescue medication in time to open his airways and allow him to breathe. 

A province–wide policy on accessibility to emergency-management inhalers in schools, and an informed and standardized asthma policy in the Ontario school system would help to make sure that children with asthma, like Ryan, can live healthy active lives. We require urgent legislation to require schools to permit responsible students to carry their own asthma reliever medication, as long as the pupil has his or her parent’s, guardian’s and physician’s approval to do so. Furthermore, Ontario needs an asthma policy that would outline strategies to reduce the risk of exposure to asthma triggers, a communication plan for the dissemination of information on asthma, regular training on recognizing and managing asthma, and a requirement that every school principal maintain a file for each pupil with asthma, including his/her individualized asthma management plan (developed in collaboration with the pupil’s health-care provider). We must recognize that by not allowing Ryan to carry his own inhaler, he suffered the most severe of consequences that day. His family is still suffering as a result of the school system’s short-sighted policy. Undoubtedly, a child’s death is the worst thing a parent can experience. Enacting this legislation will ensure no more students suffer Ryan’s fate.

Premier Wynne, we hope you will put your full resources and support behind the passing of Bill 135. The Ontario Lung Association and its professional societies are ready to provide the expertise, training, and resources required to support its implementation.  We cannot afford to have another death, another grieving family, when simple measures can be enacted to prevent another child from not being able to reach their live-saving medication in time.  We hope we can count on your support. 




George Habib
President and CEO
Ontario Lung Association

Michael Fitzpatrick, MD, FRCPI, FRCPC, DABSM 
Chair, Ontario Thoracic Society

Jennifer Olajos-Clow, RN(EC), MSc, CRE
Chair, Ontario Respiratory Care Society


C.C.  Minister Deb Matthews
Minister Liz Sandals
MPP Jeff Yurek
MPP Christine Elliott
MPP France Gélinas


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