Replies to Safe Schools Policy – Best Practice Standards for Screens and Radiation Emails

Office of the Prime Minister

From: Prime Minister/Premier Ministre [mailto:PM@pm.gc.ca]
Sent: May 5, 2017 9:14 AM
To: Cris Rowan <crowan@zonein.ca>
Cc: Jane Philpott <Minister_ministre@hc-sc.gc.ca>
Subject: Office of the Prime Minister / Cabinet du Premier ministre

Dear Cris Rowan:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence enclosing the document you co-wrote entitled Safe Schools Policy – Best Practice Standards for Screens and Radiation. I regret the delay in replying.

Please be assured that your correspondence has been carefully reviewed. As you may know, education falls primarily under the responsibilities of the provinces. Therefore, if you have not already done so, you may also wish share your concerns with the appropriate provincial authorities.

That being said, I have taken the liberty of forwarding your email to the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, for her information and consideration.

Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister.

Yours sincerely,

R. Olshansky
Executive Correspondence Officer

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Ontario Minister of Education

From: Correspondence Services (EDU) [mailto:Correspondence.Unit@ontario.ca]
Sent: May 10, 2017 11:57 AM
To: Cris Rowan <crowan@zonein.ca>
Subject: Reply from the Minister of Education

Ms. Chris Rowan
CEO
Sunshine Coast Occupational Therapy Inc.
Zone’in Programs Inc.

Dear Ms. Rowan,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the impact of technology on child development, behaviour, and learning and for sharing your safe schools and best practices document. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

The well-being of all students remains a top priority of our government. An important part of supporting well-being, as well as inspiring confidence in publicly-funded education, is working to ensure that our schools and classroom environments are healthy and safe for all students.

Across Canada, the standards for protecting human health from wireless devices —like cell phones, and other sources of electromagnetic radiation— are established by Health Canada. In all areas accessible to the public, including schools, wireless devices are required to meet Health Canada’s exposure guidelines (Safety Code 6). Industry Canada is the federal regulator responsible for assessing whether such communications equipment complies with federal standards, and for approving it. I understand that Health Canada’s position is that the levels of radiofrequency energy emitted by wireless devices are typically well below the exposure limits set out in Safety Code 6.

Health Canada also provides additional guidance to concerned cell phone users so that they may take practical measures to reduce their exposure to RF energy. While there is no evidence that children and teenagers are at increased risks, Health Canada provides information to parents with respect to the use of cell phones.

The Ministry of Education has confidence that Health Canada has the scientific, technical, and public policy knowledge necessary to determine that the use of wireless devices in schools does not pose any adverse health risks to children, youth and adults.

Please note that district school boards and trustees have autonomy in making decisions about the use of wireless devices like cell phones and Wi-Fi in schools, and I am confident that each school board recognizes the importance of providing educators, parents, students, and members of the general public with opportunities for offering meaningful input. I know that thoughtful consideration is taken by boards and school leaders of the concerns raised on this matter.

Please be assured that the ministry takes the health and safety of students seriously, as well as its commitment to helping all Ontario students succeed and lead healthy, productive lives.

Thank you again for writing and sharing your concerns.

Sincerely,

Original signed by

Mitzie Hunter, MBA
Minister

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Health Canada

From: Miruna Ionescu [mailto:miruna.ionescu@hc-sc.gc.ca] On Behalf Of CCRPB-PCRPCC
Sent: May 1, 2017 8:13 AM
To: Cris Rowan <crowan@zonein.ca>
Cc: CCRPB-PCRPCC <CCRPB-PCRPCC@hc-sc.gc.ca>
Subject: Re: Safe Schools Policy – Best Practice Standards for Screens and Radiation

Dear Ms. Rowan,

Thank you for your correspondence of March 26, 2017 submitted to Health Canada regarding your Safe Schools Policy. We recognize that your letter was addressed to the attention of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Radiation Protection Committee and has been forwarded to the attention of the federal-provincial chairs of the Committee.

With respect to human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy from wireless devices, Health Canada monitors the scientific literature related to possible health effects, conducts research, and develops exposure guidelines such as the Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz – Safety Code 6 (2015). Although the limits in Safety Code 6 are not device specific, they do set forth the maximum recommended level of exposure over the entire frequency range they cover. The actual RF exposure level for a given device would depend on the frequency used by that device.

Specific devices such as cell phones, smartphones, iPods, tablets, Wi-Fi and their associated infrastructure (e.g. telecommunication towers) are regulated by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC). To ensure that public exposures fall within acceptable guidelines, ISEDC has developed regulatory standards that include testing and labelling requirements which require compliance with the human exposure limits outlined in Safety Code 6 (2015). Any queries regarding compliance, testing procedures or labelling of the noted RF emitting devices should be directed to ISEDC (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/h_07026.html).

Health Canada is aware of the work of the US National Toxicology program and has reviewed the study report, which states that there was a statistically significant increase in certain types of cancer among male rats exposed to cell phone signals over two years. The RF exposure levels tested in the study were 19 to 75 times higher than the human exposure limits established internationally and within Canada for whole body exposure for humans. Departmental officials will review the full published studies as they become available and will consider this new evidence alongside existing scientific knowledge in this area when assessing the possible health risks from exposure to RF fields.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RF energy as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2B). The IARC classification on RF energy reflects the fact that some (limited) evidence exists that RF energy may be a risk factor for cancer. However, the vast majority of scientific research to date does not support a link between RF energy exposure and human cancers. Health Canada is in agreement with both the World Health Organization and IARC that additional research in this area is warranted. Given the uncertainty associated with long-term heavy use of cell phones, Health Canada has issued precautionary advice to cell phone users informing them of practical ways they can reduce their exposure to RF EMF from cell phones (please refer here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-radiation/safety-cell-phones-cell-phone-towers.html)

Health Canada is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of Canadians by actively monitoring scientific research and collaborating with various international organization, partners, stakeholders, federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure that Canadians are protected from adverse health effects from radiation emitting devices.

You may wish to visit the following links for more information:

Health Canada – RF Exposure Guidelines (Safety Code 6)

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/consult/_2014/safety_code_6-code_securite_6/final_finale-eng.php

Safety Code 6 – Fact Sheet
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/radiation/radio_guide-lignes_direct/safety_code_6_fs-code_securite_6_fr-eng.php

Health Canada – Radiofrequency Fields
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/cons/radiofreq/index-eng.php

We hope you find this information helpful and thank you for the information which has been noted.

Sincerely yours,

Consumer & Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau (CCRPB)
Bureau de la protection contre les rayonnements des produits cliniques et de consommation

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From: Youth Secretariat/ Secrétariat de la jeunesse (PCO/BCP) [mailto:Youth-Jeunesse@pco-bcp.gc.ca]
Sent: September 7, 2017 12:43 PM
To: Cris Rowan <crowan@zonein.ca>
Subject: RE: radiation and screens in schools

Dear Ms Rowan,

On behalf of Prime Minister Trudeau, let me thank you for your correspondence dated March 19th, 2017, regarding First Nations children’s use of technology in the classroom. Please accept my apologies for this delayed response.

We appreciate the time that you have taken to reach out to us and the important work you do in First Nation schools. The Government of Canada recognizes that closing the gaps in education outcomes of First Nations children living on reserve is critical for the shared success of all Canadians. In Budget 2016, the Government committed $2.6 billion over 5 years to be invested in First Nations education.

While the federal government funds services and programs for First Nations and Inuit on reserve, the regulatory and legislative framework around education and health are developed by provinces and territories. You might consider sharing your thoughts with representatives at the provincial level.

I thank you for sharing your policy document on best practice standards for screens and radiation. You might also consider reading through the Government’s response to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health report entitled, Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation and the Health of Canadians, tabled in the House of Commons on June 15th 2016.

Thank you again for the valued work you do to advocate for the well-being of young Canadians.

Sincerely yours,

Christiane Fox

Deputy Secretary of

Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth

Privy Council Office