The Canadian Conference of Asbestos Workers (CCAW) welcomes a significant revision of Health Canada's position on the harmfulness of asbestos. However, the CCAW is also calling on the federal government to implement a Canada-wide ban on asbestos as well as to ban the use of asbestos in products like drywall and water pipes.
"The harmful health effects resulting from exposure to asbestos are an immediate concern for our workers," said Louis Dugay, president of CCAW. "Certainly, the public acknowledgement of the dangers associated with these products and materials are a welcome step forward."
Updated language from Health Canada now acknowledges that "asbestos, if inhaled, can cause cancer and other diseases." While the health consequences associated with all types of asbestos have been recognized globally, this strengthened language marks a definitive shift in the treatment of asbestos by the Canadian government.
The World Health Organization has stated that asbestos of all types can cause diseases such as lung, larynx and ovary cancer as well as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Certain types of asbestos continue to be manufactured in Canada, despite the health risks posed.
The CCAW would like to see the federal government move forward with a ban on all asbestos products, thereby enhancing the safety of workers in Canada. This would bring Canada's standards in line with other countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
"Asbestos workers in Canada should be afforded the same health and safety regimes as their counterparts in other skilled trades in Canada, and around the world," said Vince Engel of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. "It is time for the federal government to join the 50 plus countries that have banned asbestos globally and remove this toxic products from commercial, industrial and residential environments."
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