Workplace Health and Safety

Unions applaud Canada’s international advocacy against asbestos

April 21, 2017

Canada’s unions applauded today’s announcement that the federal government will reverse its position by fully supporting the listing chrysotile asbestos among hazardous substances regulated under the Rotterdam Convention,

“Unions campaigned long and hard for a ban on asbestos to make workplaces and public spaces safer for all Canadians, but also people around the world who were being exposed to asbestos,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff.

The World Health Organization declared asbestos a human carcinogen in 1987. However, for many years Canada continued to bolster asbestos exports by downplaying the dangers of the carcinogen internationally. The Harper government even went so far as to block the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list – a position that was roundly criticized by Canada’s unions, health and safety advocates, and the international community.

Today, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced that her government will advocate for the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention at the upcoming eighth meeting at the Conference of the Parties in Geneva next week. The Canadian Labour Congress will be sending a delegation to Geneva to call on the international community to support the listing of chrysotile as well.

“We worked with the government last year to secure a comprehensive ban on the import and export of asbestos here in Canada, and we are encouraged to see Canada taking international leadership on this issue. We hope this will help countries around the world make better decisions, more fully informed about the true dangers of asbestos,” Yussuff added.

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