Canada’s Heat and Frost Insulators Mark National Day of Mourning With Call for a Comprehensive Ban on Asbestos



(Marketwired – April 28, 2016) – Today, on the National Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured or made ill on the job, the union representing Canada’s Heat and Frost Insulators is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada to ban the use of asbestos in Canada. 

“Asbestos exposure affects everyone, whether its workers, their family members or other Canadians who come into contact with workers following exposure,” said Fred Clare, Vice-President (Eastern Canada) of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. “This is why I’ve written to Prime Minister Trudeau to seek his support for this life-saving ban.”

Asbestos remains the number one cause of work-related death in Canada. The deadly legacy of asbestos is known throughout the world, causing more than 2,000 deaths each year. While Canada’s last asbestos producing mine closed in 2012, Canadian imports of asbestos are growing — from $4.7 million in 2011 to $8.2 million in 2015. This puts more and more Canadians at risk. 

The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers are members of the Canadian Building Trades Union, representing Canadian men and women who insulate heating and cooling systems. These workers handle the safe removal of asbestos from buildings across the country, which is critical to improving the health and safety of Canadians.

“Our members disproportionately suffer from the consequences of handling asbestos, resulting in illness and death,” added Vince Engel, Vice-President (Western Canada) of the Insulators union. “The time has come to once and for all ban the import and use of asbestos in Canada and save future generations from exposure to this deadly substance.” 

Those who are exposed to asbestos can develop asbestosis, a scarring and thickening of the lungs that makes even normal breathing excruciating. Exposure can also result in mesothelioma — an insidious cancer which spreads quickly through the body and is caused exclusively by asbestos. 

The Insulators Association, the Canadian Labour Congress and other Canadian unions have renewed the urgent call for a comprehensive ban on asbestos in Canada. Steps associated with this ban include: 

Legislation banning the use, import and export of asbestos; 

Creation of an expert panel to advise Parliament on implementation of the legislation; 

National registries of contaminated buildings and cases of asbestos related diseases; 

A comprehensive health response to asbestos diseases; 

Banning the use of asbestos-containing materials in federally funded infrastructure projects; 

Harmonizing regulatory standards for asbestos disposal;

Making sure Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMIS 2015) requires all asbestos-containing products are accompanied by life-saving Safety Data Sheets that warn workers of the presence of asbestos;

Advocating for the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous materials under the Rotterdam Convention; and, 

Providing transitional support for businesses, workers and communities affected by the ban on the use, import and export of asbestos and asbestos-containing products.


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