Workers Health & Safety Centre

Federal bill seeks total asbestos ban

Sheri Benson, MP for Saskatoon West hopes her private member’s Bill will prompt the federal government to make good on their promise to ban asbestos. 
"Five months ago, the Prime Minister pledged to ban asbestos,” says Benson. “Every day action is delayed, more lives are put at risk. The Liberal government must impose a complete ban on asbestos immediately."
This is the intention of Benson’s Bill C-321—An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (prohibition of asbestos). It calls for an end to the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of asbestos or asbestos containing products (and certain other toxic substances) that cause significant danger to the environment or to human life or health.
Labour, health and community advocates have been lobbying for years to convince the Canadian government to join with more than 50 countries who’ve already implemented comprehensive bans including Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.
“A comprehensive ban will save lives, it’s that simple,” says Hassan Yussuff, president, Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) who joined Benson at a press conference on Wednesday, November 16, to introduce Bill C-321. “This is about making public spaces and workplaces safer for all Canadians, and there is no need to delay any longer. We need to ban asbestos now.”
The CLC, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Cancer Society are just some of the many organizations proposing action beyond the ban called for in Bill C-321, including:
  • promoting safer substitutes,
  • providing transition support for affected workers, industries and communities,
  • developing a pan-Canadian registry of asbestos exposure locations and related diseases, and
  • supporting a comprehensive and protective public health response to asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos is the leading cause of recognized work-related death in Canada. It’s estimated more than 2,000 Canadians die every year from mesothelioma and other diseases related to asbestos exposure. Family members have contracted asbestos-related illnesses too by coming into contact with the deadly fibres on contaminated clothes through the simple acts of laundering clothes or exchanging a hug.
More than 150,000 Canadian workers continue to be exposed to asbestos in their workplaces—50,000 here in Ontario. Equally troubling, imports of asbestos-containing products including cement pipes and brake pads, grew from $4.7 million in 2011 to $8.2 million in 2015.
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