In Ryan’s Memory


After a boy’s tragic death, MPPs prepare for vote on new legislation to make schools safe for children with asthma.

Toronto, ON – It is the day Sandra Gibbons has hoped for and worked for – the day she feared might never come.

At Queen’s Park tomorrow (Thursday, April 30), Bill 20 – Ryan’s Law (Ensuring Asthma Friendly Schools) will come before the legislature for a final vote.

The Bill is expected to pass with the support of all parties – a happy ending to the story of the mother from Tillsonburg whose son’s tragic death ignited a campaign to make Ontario’s schools safe for children with asthma.

Twelve-year-old Ryan Gibbons died on April 9, 2012 after suffering an asthma attack at school. Six months later – on World Asthma Day, May 7, 2013 – the Ontario Lung Association invited Sandra Gibbons to appear at a press conference at Queen’s Park to announce the launch of The Lung Association’s seven-step guide to making schools asthma-friendly.

“I hope that we can all learn from what happened to Ryan,” she said at the time. “We must remember that even though asthma is common, a flare-up can be very serious – even fatal. We must do everything we can to create a safe school environment for children with asthma.”

Sandra’s MPP Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London) decided to take the issue to the legislature with a private member’s bill – named after Ryan Gibbons – that would replace the patchwork of school board policies and rules with consistent standards for asthma education and preparedness across the provincial education system.

Two years later, Ryan’s Law is one small step away from heading to the Lieutenant-Governor for royal assent.

“There are no words to describe how I feel about the prospect of Ryan’s Law finally passing,” Sandra Gibbons said today. “But I do know now many tears I have cried thinking about this day.

“My boy is gone and that pain will never go away,” she said. “But it does help to know that something good has come out of all this . . . that we are helping to make sure no other mother has to go through what I went through – losing a child because he can’t breathe.”

Third reading debate on Bill 20 – Ryan’s Law (Ensuring Asthma Friendly Schools) will take place this afternoon (Wednesday) and MPPs will vote on the Bill after Question Period on Thursday morning.

“The Ontario Lung Association is privileged to have supported Sandra along her journey and proud to have played a role in the formulation and passage of Ryan’s Law,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. “This legislation will ensure that the 570,000 Ontario children with asthma have a safe school environment where they can learn and play. We stand ready to work with our partners in government, in schools and in the community to help implement the provisions of Ryan’s Law.”

About the Ontario Lung Association

The Ontario Lung Association is a registered charity that assists, educates and empowers individuals living with or caring for others with lung disease. We provide programs and services to patients and health-care providers, invest in lung research and campaign for improved policies on lung health. Our Lung Health Information Line – 1‐888‐344‐LUNG (5864) – is staffed by certified respiratory educators.