Government challenged for its "shameful asbestos policy"

    OTTAWA, Feb. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - A number of environment, health and labour
groups are challenging the Canadian government to stop promoting the interests
of the asbestos industry and instead help the growing number of Canadians who
are suffering and dying from asbestos-related disease.
    "It is particularly heartless that the Canadian government, which put
asbestos-contaminated Zonolite insulation in the houses of First Nations
people living on reserves, has refused to take any responsibility for removing
the deadly material or helping the victims," said Kathleen Ruff, founder of
RightOnCanada, a citizens' human rights group.
    "Canada's record on asbestos is shameful," said Larry Stoffman, chair of
the National Committee on Environmental and Occupational Exposures. "We are
one of the few industrialized countries who have rejected the call by the
World Health Organization and all the independent, recognized scientific
organizations around the world to ban all forms of asbestos."
    "We know this product is deadly, but we export 95% of Canada's asbestos
to developing countries, where workers often lack safety protections and where
it is sowing the seeds of a public health tragedy," Stoffman said.
    Increasing numbers of Canadian are dying from asbestos, the world's
biggest occupational health killer. In 2007 in B.C., for example, over half of
occupational deaths were from asbestos-related disease.
    "Yet the Canadian government refuses to even set up a registry to keep
track of the increasing number of Canadians falling sick and dying from
asbestos-caused disease," said Anthony Pizzino, national research director of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees. "It seems they just don't care."
    While the Canadian government turns a deaf ear to those whose lives have
been devastated by asbestos, it has given $20 million over the years to the
asbestos industry.
    The science that asbestos is deadly and must be banned is indisputable,
but the Harper government is continuing devious strategies to avoid action.
Instead of acting, the government continues to deny the science and blocks
action on asbestos both in Canada and internationally.
    "Enough's enough," said Joan Kuyek, national coordinator of Mining Watch
Canada. "It's time for the government to clean up its act and put the health
of people ahead of the interests of the asbestos industry."

For further information:

For further information: Larry Stoffman, (604) 250-3713; Anthony
Pizzino, (613) 237-1590; Kathleen Ruff, (250) 847-1848; Joan Kuyek, (613)

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