On November 16, NDP member of Parliament Sheri Benson introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to legislate a complete ban on asbestos and all products containing asbestos in Canada.

See the story here.

CUPE National President Mark Hancock welcomed the news.

“This simple change would protect the safety of workers who, even today, have to worry that construction materials they are using for new builds and repairs contain asbestos,” Hancock said. “Better still, such legislation would bring us in line with the practice of 56 other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.” 

Hancock noted that there was still more to be done to deal with the asbestos that has already been used in countless workplaces. He encouraged all Members of Parliament to work together to pass the bill quickly.

“We ask MPs to think of the welfare of all workers, and to collaborate for the speedy passage of this bill,” Hancock said. “We especially ask the Liberals to show leadership to protect workers who may be exposed to asbestos in workplaces across the country.”

The federal government must work with local governments to address safety concerns, said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.

“We encourage the federal government to work with municipalities on asbestos disposal to protect the thousands of CUPE members who work in landfills and other disposal related activities,” Fleury said.

5 things the federal government should do to deal with asbestos in existing buildings:

  • Create a pan-Canadian, publicly available registry for all public buildings that contain asbestos
  • Create a federal registry for workers who have been exposed to asbestos
  • Work with provincial governments to develop a comprehensive health response to asbestos-related diseases, including early detection and effective treatment of asbestos diseases
  • Work with provincial governments to change compensation legislation to make it easier for workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases to receive the compensation they deserve, and
  • Add chrysotile asbestos to the list of hazardous products under the Rotterdam Convention, a multilateral treaty that promotes shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. We should ban asbestos in Canada – and everywhere else.