Quebec commits funds for sprinkler retrofits

Monday, March 30, 2015

The 2015-16 Quebec budget earmarks $70.6 million over the next five years to underwrite sprinkler retrofits in more than 1,300 privately owned seniors’ residences. This fulfills a pledge for support Quebec’s minister of labour, Sam Hamad, made earlier this year as he announced his government’s plans to mandate the installation of automatic sprinklers in almost all existing seniors’ facilities.

That move came just days after the release of Coroner Cyrille Delâge’s report on the inquest into a tragic fire at a nursing home in January 2014, and makes Quebec just the fourth Canadian province to require sprinklers in seniors’ residences. Currently, fewer than one-third of Quebec’s certified private seniors’ residences are equipped with sprinkler systems, while nearly 57,000 seniors live in non-sprinklered units.

It has been estimated that it will collectively cost owners about $253 million to undertake the required work, which has a compliance deadline of March 18, 2020. Physical alterations to walls and ceilings to accommodate piping account for nearly 60 per cent of the projected costs.

“We must not compromise in any way the safety of the elderly, and we are taking action to prevent more tragedies,” Quebec’s finance minister, Carlos Leitao, said as he unveiled the budget.

The newly announced program will subsidize a portion of capital costs prorated to the size of the facility. Seniors’ homes with no more than 30 residents can receive a rebate of 60 per cent of eligible costs, which include the sprinkler system, associated construction costs and pumps, generators and tanks, if necessary. Mid-sized residences with 31 to 99 residents qualify for rebates of 40 per cent, while large facilities with more than 100 occupants are eligible for a 20 per cent rebate.

All installations must be approved by a certified engineer, and owners must keep supporting documentation and maintenance records on site.