An organisation representing trade unions in Canada is calling on the Canadian federal government to ban asbestos.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) represents around 3.3 million workers in unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community based labour councils.
Canada was central to the rise in use of asbestos in the 19th century, becoming one of the main exporters of the substance from it’s asbestos mines, including the famous Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec.
Although Canada’s last asbestos-producing mine closed in 2012 and the country no longer exports the substance, it does still import asbestos.
According to the CLC, imports rose from $4.7 million in 2011 to $8.2 million in 2015.
In April of this year, Public Works and Government Services Canada announced that the use of asbestos in its new construction and major renovation projects would be prohibited, and recently established a National Asbestos inventory which lists all buildings owned or leased by the department.
In May, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said the federal government was ‘moving forward on a ban’ of asbestos, but there was no official announcement or schedule indicated.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, asbestos exposure is Canada’s leading cause of workplace death and CLC says that an estimated 2,000 people die every year from asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Canada has a population of around 36 million.
Canadian Labour Congress wants government to ban asbestos
The CLC is calling on the Canadian federal government to ban the use, import and export of asbestos, including:-
The creation of an expert panel to advise parliament on implementation;
National registries of both contaminated buildings and cases of asbestos related diseases;
A comprehensive health response to asbestos diseases;
Banning the use of asbestos containing materials in federally funded infrastructure projects;
Harmonising regulatory standards for asbestos disposal;
Making sure Canada’s workplace Hazardous Materials Information System requires that all asbestos containing products are accompanied by lifesaving material Safety Data sheets that warn workers of the presence of asbestos; and
Advocating for the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous materials under the Rotterdam Convention.
CLC President, Hassan Yussaf, said, “As a mechanic, I was exposed for more than 20 years to asbestos contained in brake pads. To this day, Canada imports similar products which contain asbestos, even though asbestos free, Canadian made alternatives exist. There is no excuse for putting Canadian families at risk.”
He went on to say, “More than 2,000 Canadians die every year from diseases like mesothelioma that are caused by asbestos exposure. This is about workers safety and it’s about public safety, which is why we are calling for the government to adopt a comprehensive ban on asbestos.”
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/