Asbestos banned in new construction, renovations of federal buildings – by Tavia Grant (Globe and Mail – April 13, 2016)

A federal government department has banned the use of asbestos in all new construction and renovations, a move it says serves as “an important first step” toward eliminating asbestos use in all new government construction.

Public Services and Procurement Canada – the federal government’s central purchasing agent – has officially banned the use of asbestos-containing materials in all construction and major renovations, a prohibition that took effect April 1. The department oversees 30 per cent of the total area of federal buildings, and a portion of planned new construction.

“This is a marvellous first step,” said Colin Soskolne, professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. Now, he hopes to see “a total ban, across all Canadian jurisdictions, in all areas, including imports, exports and use,” which would put Canada in line with dozens of other developed countries.

The move to curtail the use of the deadly material comes after decades of lobbying. Pressure continued this week, as the Canadian auto-recycling association, whose members employ about 5,000 Canadian workers, became the latest group to call for federal policies to end the import and use of asbestos in the country.

Each year, more than 2,000 people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, according to the Occupational Cancer Research Centre. Concern about exposures prompted the Canadian Cancer Society, in a rare step, to send a letter recently to the Liberal government, calling for a countrywide ban on all asbestos products.

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