The Canadian Broadcasting Company has announced that Canada will be issuing a comprehensive ban on asbestos sometime this week. The media outlet did not reveal its sources but noted that the push for these measures has been hard throughout the last year, though Canadians have been rallying for a ban for far longer.
“Canadian labour and health groups have been calling for a comprehensive ban for years,” wrote reporter Julie Ireton, noting that about 2,000 Canadians die of asbestos-related diseases each year, many as a result of past workplace exposure.
In Quebec Province, many of the deceased worked at the now-defunct Thetford mines and other such facilities in and near the aptly-named town of Asbestos. There, chrysotile “white” asbestos was mined for more than a century.
The last Quebec mine closed in 2012, much to the relief of those who understood the dangers of the mineral. The government fought the closing until the bitter end, maintaining that chrysotile was the safe form of asbestos. Studies show otherwise.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been in office for just over a year, has been promising the ban since he took office. Proponents for the ban recently accused the liberal of dragging his feet in regards to this matter.
However, last month, Saskatchewan New Democrat Party MP Sheri Benson put forward a private member’s bill calling on the ban. Since that time, the proverbial ball seems to be rolling faster.
Trudeau did take the first steps towards an asbestos ban back in May, when he announced the intention of putting together a building registry of federal structures that contain asbestos.
Just prior to that, the Public Services and Procurement department of the Canadian government announced its plan to ban the use of asbestos in any construction projects for which that agency is responsible. Other departments are expected to follow suit shortly.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is worried that the moves planned by the Trudeau-led government, namely the comprehensive ban and the building registry, may not be enough. According to a CBC article penned this past May, the CLC wants:
- Legislation banning the use, import and export of anything containing asbestos.
- A national registry of all public buildings that contain asbestos.
- A national registry of all workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases to be tracked by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
There is no word as to whether the government will implement these steps, at least not right away.
Canada and the United States lag behind about 50 other countries who have already banned the toxic mineral. This includes Japan, Australia, the U.K., and many other members of the European Union.
Recently, several African countries have also taken steps to ban asbestos, especially Third World Countries to which the material was imported for decades and widely used due to its low cost. Many in those countries are now suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.