Officials Dragging Feet on Canadian Asbestos Ban

Health experts, labor groups, and those directly affected by asbestos diseases are unhappy that – a year after taking office – the Liberal party hasn’t yet made good on their promise to ban asbestos in Canada.

canadian-asbestos-ban-mineGabriel Miller, director of public issues at the Canadian Cancer Society, told the Globe and Mail newspaper that he is not pleased with the inaction. He had hoped that the promises made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, elected last year, would have come to be by this time.

“Our position, and the evidence, is as clear as it can be: that asbestos is a carcinogen that is a major cause of cancer, including lung cancers, that kill many Canadians,” said Miller. A ban “should be an as-soon-as-possible priority for the federal government.”

Trudeau has told the general public that the government is “moving forward on a ban”, but he has not provided a timeline for that action. The last time concerned citizens heard him say that was at a meeting of building trade unions in early May.

Now, the government of Canada notes that it is “examining a band” but have provided few details, even when pressed. Officials from the Office of Science, responsible for organizing details of the ban, have refused to issue any statements.

Canada, once one of the largest miners and exporters of chrysotile asbestos, continues to both export and import the toxic material. As a matter of fact, statistics from the government show that $4.3 million in asbestos imports have entered the country in the first eight months of this calendar year. Pipes, raw asbestos, and brake pads are among those imports.

Such a number alarms those who have been personally touched by hazardous asbestos. Each year in Canada, some 2,300 individuals are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma cancer.

Because mesothelioma takes such a long time to develop – often as long as 50 years – health experts in the country predict that cases have not yet peaked and expect that many more Canadians will die of asbestos-related cancer in the future.

The plight of the Canadians causes one to wonder what will occur as far as a U.S. ban on asbestos is concerned. Though 50 countries have already banned the use of the mineral, both the United States and Canada are holding back. This year’s presidential election will likely have something to do with how the ball rolls in the U.S.