Dozens of groups are pressing Ottawa to join more than 50 countries in banning asbestos, a move the Liberal Party supported while in opposition.
A letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this month notes that Canada still allows the use of asbestos and lacks a comprehensive strategy to phase out the substance or to promote safe substitutes.
Separately, the Canadian Cancer Society has also sent a letter to the government, a copy of which was given to The Globe and Mail, calling for a nationwide ban on all asbestos products, a rare step for the country’s largest national health charity.
“It’s time to send a clear message and establish clear policy to end asbestos, end any confusion about its dangers, any confusion about the toll it’s taken, and any debate there is about a mythical ‘safe’ exposure level, and most importantly, [end] the exposure of Canadian workers and families to this potentially deadly substance,” said Gabriel Miller, director of public issues at the Canadian Cancer Society.
In an e-mailed statement, Health Canada said it will carefully consider whether further controls of asbestos are necessary, in addition to the measures the government has in place to protect Canadians from exposure.
Adding to a sense of urgency is the federal government’s plans to boost spending on infrastructure. Those plans raise concerns that asbestos in pipes, cement or other building materials could wind up in new construction.
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