News Release Article from  Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Government of Canada to ban asbestos

Government-wide strategy will lead to a comprehensive ban to protect the health and safety of Canadians

December 15, 2016 – Ottawa – Government of Canada

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, along with the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that the Government of Canada will move forward with a whole-of-government approach to fulfill its commitment to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018.

The approach will be guided by science-based decision making and will be implemented in consultation with our partners. Canadians can be confident that the Government of Canada is making every effort to protect their health and safety, along with the health and safety of their families, co-workers and communities.

The comprehensive ban on asbestos will include:

  • creating new regulations that ban the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the legislative framework that protects people from the risks associated with hazardous substances such as asbestos;
  • establishing new federal workplace health and safety rules that will drastically limit the risk of people coming into contact with asbestos on the job;
  • expanding the current online list of asbestos-containing buildings owned or leased by the Government of Canada;
  • working in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners to change the national, provincial and territorial building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects across Canada;
  • updating our international position regarding the listing of asbestos as a hazardous material based on Canada's domestic ban before next year's meeting of parties to the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty involving more than 150 countries that support listing asbestos as a hazard; and
  • raising awareness of the health impacts of asbestos to help reduce the incidence of lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

The Government of Canada will work with the health, labour, trade and commercial sectors, among others, to fulfill its commitment to ban asbestos by 2018. The regulatory process will be open and inclusive and will allow for consultations with multiple stakeholders—including provinces, territories, communities, industry, scientists and health professionals—in advance of the ban being implemented. The result of the government's coordinated and comprehensive actions will ensure that the health and safety of Canadians is protected at home, at work and in their communities.

Quotes

"Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is of utmost importance to the government. There is irrefutable evidence that has led us to take concrete action to ban asbestos. Canadians can be confident my colleagues and I will continue to work hard to ensure their families, co-workers and communities will be protected from the harmful impacts of asbestos exposure so they may lead healthy, secure lives."

– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"Across Canada and around the world, asbestos-related cancers continue to hurt Canadian families and pose a significant burden for our health care systems. Our government is taking action to protect Canadians from substances such as asbestos that can be harmful to their health and safety."

– The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health

"The Prime Minister made a commitment to move forward on a ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Canada. Today, we are delivering on that promise. We will put in place the best regulatory measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians as we move forward towards a complete ban on asbestos."

– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

"Our government took early action against asbestos by prohibiting its use in new Public Services and Procurement Canada buildings and creating a public inventory of buildings that contain asbestos that are owned or leased by PSPC. I am proud that we are building on these important first steps to prohibit the broader use of asbestos and taking a leadership role in extending our inventory to include all federal government buildings. We are committed to providing employees and the occupants and visitors of our buildings with safe and healthy environments."

– The Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Quick facts

  • Asbestos was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987.
  • At the height of its use, asbestos was found in more than 3,000 applications worldwide; however, production and use have declined since the 1970s.
  • Effective April 1, 2016, the Government of Canada introduced a ban on the use of asbestos-containing materials in all new construction and renovation projects under the purview of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).
  • PSPC has published a National Asbestos Inventory of federal buildings containing asbestos that it owns or leases.
  • There are no significant health risks if materials containing asbestos in homes are tightly bound and left undisturbed.
  • The government participates in the Rotterdam Convention, whose objective is to protect human health and the environment by promoting informed decisions about the import and management of certain hazardous chemicals.

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Associated links

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Twitter: @ScienceMin
Instagram: sciencemin

Contacts

Stefanie Power
Acting Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science
343-291-2600

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343-291-1777
ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic@canada.ca


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