Labour groups back MP Sheri Benson’s call to ban asbestos
A Saskatoon MP has joined forces with the Canadian Labour Congress and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour in her fight to ban the use of asbestos.
Saskatoon West MP Sheri Benson joined SFL president Larry Hubich, CLC prairie director Darla Deguire and Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization chair Jesse Todd on Monday to call on the federal government to ban asbestos use in Canada.
Benson, the NDP’s labour critic, introduced a private member’s bill last week calling for an amendment to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The amendment would prohibit the manufacturing, use, import, sale and offer for sale of asbestos.
“Every day that we day delay means more Canadians will be affected and more lives will be lost,” Benson said Monday.
“I do hope to have the support of the government and every member of Parliament to eventually — finally — ban asbestos in Canada.”
Asbestos is still found in many construction products — from floor tiles and siding to shingles and insulation — and has also been used in vehicle components like brake pads and clutches.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer, but the substance poses no risk if sealed, isolated and left undisturbed, according to the federal government.
The groups pushing for the ban call the substance a killer and say alternatives exist.
Asbestos is the leading cause of workplace-related deaths in Canada, and the number of people who died of mesothelioma — a rare cancer — across the country increased by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2012, the groups say.
Asbestos imports into Canada also increased to $8.2 million in 2015 from $4.7 million in 2011.
The prime minister announced this spring an asbestos ban was in the works.
The group calling for the ban wants to ensure the government commits to the announcement and, more specifically, provides a timeline for an asbestos ban by the end of the year.
“I do feel they need to stand up in the House of Commons and follow through on their promise to say when they’re going to ban asbestos,” Benson said.