By Ben Forrest, St. Thomas Times-Journal
The push for Ryan’s Law has staked out its own digital space in a bid to gather public support for a bill aimed at making Ontario schools safer for kids with asthma.
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek launched a website for Ryan’s Law, which he introduced as a private member’s bill last year, at his constituency office Tuesday in St. Thomas.
The website – passryanslaw.com – aims to educate constituents about the bill with the hope they’ll support it and pressure MPPs to do the same.
“This bill is only common sense,” Yurek said.
“I’m hoping by having this website we can build a strong backing of the bill that I can then talk about in my deliberations at second reading and hopefully if that passes, into committee.”
Ryan’s Law is named after Ryan Gibbons, 12, who died after an asthma attack at his school in Straffordville in 2012.
Gibbons was not allowed to carry his inhaler with him at school, his mother Sandra Gibbons said.
If passed, Ryan’s Law would require Ontario school boards to develop comprehensive, standardized asthma management plans.
Each plan would ensure students who have a parent or guardian’s permission are allowed to carry a relief inhaler at all times.
The plans would also include strategies to reduce the risk of exposure to asthma triggers in classrooms and common school areas.
They would develop communications plans for sharing information on asthma with parents, students and employees.
And they would include training for school employees on how to recognize asthma symptoms, among other things.
“Different schools, different school boards tend to have different rules with regards to reliever puffers for kids with asthma,” Yurek said.
“This bill raises awareness of that fact, fixes that problem to ensure that all students are allowed access to their inhaler. But it also is increasing the education amongst all those involved in the school system to ensure that they understand asthma as a disease and how it’s treated and controlled.”
Ryan’s Law came before the legislature last November and passed second reading but did not make it past the committee stage before the spring provincial election.
Yurek reintroduced the bill in July and it’s slated to return for second reading Oct. 23.
The process has been difficult for Sandra Gibbons, but she said she thinks the website will help.
“It explains the background and kind of where we’re trying to get,” she said.
If all goes smoothly, Ryan’s Law and its regulations could be in place by September next year.