Thursday, October 18, 2018

Canada’s unions applaud the federal government for introducing regulations to ban the import, export, manufacture, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. The regulations, announced in December 2016 will come into force on December 30, 2018.

“This is a critical step on the long road to banning asbestos, and will, without a doubt, save lives for generations to come,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff. 

The new regulations, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA), prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos, the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos, as well as the export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, with a limited number of exceptions. Combined, this is a historic step to protect the health of Canadian workers and the public, and to address Canada’s history as an exporter of this deadly substance. With these regulations, Canada now joins 55 countries that have banned the use of asbestos. 

Yussuff said that it will be crucial for protection from exposure to extend to everyone living in Canada, including those living in First Nations housing filled with asbestos-ridden vermiculite insulation. 

“Because these diseases have a long latency period, the danger is not over, but this is the beginning of the end. Now we need the provinces and territories to show the same leadership that the federal government has shown and move quickly to take stock of where asbestos is, harmonize regulation around disposal and remediation, and ensure a comprehensive response,” he said.

“We can all breathe easier. The introduction of these regulations in a timely manner is the result of years of advocacy and hard work by people dedicated to safer, healthier workplaces. Today, I celebrate and thank the government for giving the next generation of Canadians a better future, free from the pain and suffering caused by asbestos,” said Yussuff. 

A robust enforcement strategy to ensure compliance with these new regulations will be important to a successful implementation and to addressing the legacy of asbestos-contaminated workplaces.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the federal government on the broader whole-of-government strategy to protect Canadians from the harms of asbestos,” added Yussuff.