Canada’s federal government has announced a ban on the import, export, manufacture and use of asbestos, representing a major victory for Canada’s trade union movement.
While Canada banned asbestos mining in 2012, imports of asbestos-containing products have been increasing over the past five years, and some asbestos-containing products have also been exported from Canada.
Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said the government’s move will increase pressure on other countries which still have not implemented a ban.
“Tens of millions of people are exposed to asbestos, and all governments need to act as Canada now has to stem the appalling toll of death and disease,” she added.
Meanwhile, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), said: “Canada’s unions, along with survivors and health advocates, have been working hard for this ban for decades.
“We know this will strengthen occupational health and safety protections for workers and make workplaces and public spaces safer for everyone.”
CLC is continuing to press the government for a national registry of people affected by asbestos-related diseases, the implementation of a comprehensive health response covering early detection and treatment.
In addition, it will also look to introduce measures to protect workers in situations where asbestos is present such as building renovations. The CLC has also called for the government to support demands at the UN that chrysotile asbestos be added to the list of especially hazardous materials regulated under the Rotterdam Convention.