In response to continued calls to ban the importation and use of asbestos in Canada, the federal government has offered to review the situation.
“I think we are going to have to look at it, it’s still being used in a lot of circumstances,” says MaryAnn Mihychuk, Canada’s federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. “We’re considering the ban, but we’re not there yet
These comments were in response to a recent CBC news report highlighting the federal government’s continuing use of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) such as tiles and cement pipes in the construction and renovation of federal buildings. In addition to these materials, asbestos-containing vehicle brake linings and pads are also extensively used here in Canada
This despite the World Health Organization, a body of the United Nations, saying unequivocally there is no safe level of exposure
to asbestos; asbestos-related disease has been found to be the single largest cause of work-related death in Canada; and according to new Statistics Canada data, asbestos-related deaths are on the rise.
Workers, their representatives and others have actively urged government and employers to ban asbestos and to otherwise eliminate or control exposure for years. The Canadian Labour Congress has recently published a list of five reasons to ban asbestos
immediately, including the fact more than 50 countries have already taken this action.
MP Sheri Benson, federal labour critic for the New Democratic Party (NDP) recently voiced her concern on the issue. Addressing federal parliament she observed, “Mr. Speaker, asbestos has been called the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known
and my colleagues have been fighting hard to get this carcinogenic and toxic material out of buildings and people's lives. This known carcinogen has claimed the lives of thousands of Canadian workers, so people were shocked to learn that while the federal government is spending millions to remove it from some buildings, it is installing new asbestos in other buildings
The federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Judy Foote, echoed her fellow minister’s response and replied for the government saying they “certainly will undertake a review
to make sure that asbestos is not a product that is used on an ongoing basis.”
For our part, the Workers Health & Safety Centre offers asbestos awareness training
to help workplace parties better understand this deadly hazard, related health and safety legislation and measures to control and track exposures.
To learn more:
Call: 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training service representative, or
Want to read more about asbestos from the WHSC?
Asbestos: towards zero exposure fact sheet
Asbestos-related death on the rise in Canada
Jail time for workplace asbestos-related convictions
Want to read the CLC’s Five Reasons Canada must ban asbestos now?
Want to read more from the CBC?
Federal government still using asbestos in new construction
Federal labour ministry says she will consider asbestos ban