In a monumental victory for all Canadians, the federal government announced on Thursday that Canada will ban asbestos use by 2018.
Already banned in countries like Germany, Australia and Japan, asbestos is known to cause deadly cancers and lung diseases. About 2,000 Canadians die of asbestos-related diseases each year, with many of those deaths being linked to asbestos exposure in the workplace. In fact, in early December, new data was reported that showed asbestos is still the top on-the-job-killer in Canada.
Canada’s asbestos ban comes after years of lobbying from Canadian labour and public health groups. SEIU Healthcare research associate Natasha Luckhardt has been a huge proponent for a ban against asbestos in Canada. Earlier this year, Luckhardt started work on a documentary about widows who lost their husbands due to asbestos-related diseases. For her, this ban has been a long time coming.
‘I’m personally relieved,” said Luckhardt. “I’m relieved that the value of human lives has finally trumped the profitability of asbestos use and abuse. An asbestos ban has been so long overdue in Canada that it feels like a right that is finally being realized – the right to a safe environment for Canadians and for the many citizens abroad who have been impacted by Canada’s export of the lethal mineral.”
Once implemented, Canada’s ban on asbestos will cover the manufacturing, importing and exporting of asbestos-containing products, which include building materials and brake pads. The government will also introduce new federal workplace health and safety rules that will significantly decrease the risk of workplace asbestos exposure.
For more information, you can read the news release from the Government of Canada here.