A month ago, we blogged about a CBC News article by Julie Ireton that covered the diminishing health of Ottawa-based electrician, Dennis Lapointe. Having worked at a Canada Revenue Agency building for 16 years, Lapointe was exposing himself to asbestos without knowing it throughout his tenure. Sadly, he today experiences numerous health issues surrounding his respiratory system.
Interestingly, just a week after we posted that blog, Ireton released another report revealing that “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made the federal government’s first commitment to move forward with a plan to ban asbestos.” And while much damage has already been done to workers, just like Lapointe, who have been exposed to asbestos while on the job, this comes as very positive news for Canada’s future.
Evidently, there is finally an acknowledgement that the dangers that come with using asbestos are far worse than the benefits the product is supposed to provide. Prime Minister Trudeau, in fact, aired these sentiments. “We’ve actually made the commitment that we are moving forward on a ban…here in Canada,” he responded when asked about the ban by a trade union leader, “We know that its impact on workers far outweighs any benefits that it might provide.”
While a nationwide asbestos ban would come as good news, there are many who may feel that it would be too much too late. After all, Ireton reports that although Canada hasn’t exported any asbestos in some time, it has strangely accepted imports of construction products and automotive parts that contain the toxic material. One may wonder why an official ban on all asbestos-containing products hasn’t already been made.
Hassan Yussuff is one such person. He is the president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Ireton reports that he hopes that an official ban of asbestos in Canada is announced before the beginning of summer. The ban, he hopes, will be a complete and extensive one. For Yussuff, an asbestos ban would provide a sense of personal gratification. He, himself, was exposed to asbestos during his time spent working as a mechanic.
As Ireton reports, the Canadian Labour Congress is calling for legislation that bans the use, import and export of anything containing asbestos. As well, they are calling for a national registry of all public buildings that contain asbestos in addition to a national registry of all workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases that is to be tracked by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
An asbestos ban this comprehensive would finally bring Canada to the respectable levels of Europe, Australia and Japan where such bans already exist. To make perfectly clear, asbestos is a proven cause of deadly cancers and lung diseases such mesothelioma. “About 2,000 Canadians die of asbestos-related diseases every year — many of those deaths have been linked to asbestos exposure in the workplace,” Ireton reports.
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