Heed students and Ban Canadian Asbestos, say health, environment and social justice organizations

    OTTAWA, June 1 /CNW Telbec/ - Twenty of Canada's foremost health,
environment and labour organizations are urging Canadian Parliamentarians to
heed the call to ban Canadian asbestos being brought to Ottawa by three Grade
10 students from northern British Columbia. The students - Hayley McDermid,
Claire Hinchliffe and Chloe Staiger, have written a bill to end Canada's
mining and export of asbestos to developing countries. Their Member of
Parliament, Nathan Cullen, is presenting their bill in the House of Commons
    "We support these students one hundred per cent," said Diana Daghofer,
Co-Chair of Prevent Cancer Now. "We hope that Canada's political leaders are
listening to them and to the massive Canadian and international backing for a
ban on the production, use and export of this deadly substance."
    "Canadians should be very proud of the initiative taken by these
students." states Kathleen Cooper of the Canadian Environmental Law
Association. "We must also direct resources and assistance to affected
communities in Canada, and stop continuing to support a toxic and dying
    "It is time to end the double standard whereby we export a product that
we refuse to use in Canada because of the threat we know it poses to public
health," said Kathleen Ruff of the Rideau Institute on International Affairs.
    "Asbestos-related disease is the biggest occupational killer in Canada,"
said occupational health expert Dr. James Brophy. "We need to stop mining and
exporting it; we need a national registry and we need to help those who are
living the tragedy of asbestos-related disease."

    Supported by: Prevent Cancer Now, Ban Asbestos Canada, Breast Cancer
Action Montreal, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment,
Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian
Environmental Law Association, Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and
Policy, Canadian Teachers' Federation, Clean Production Action, David Suzuki
Foundation, Ecojustice, MiningWatch Canada, Ontario College of Family
Physicians, Ontario Teachers' Federation, Rideau Institute on International
Affairs, Saunders-Matthey Cancer Prevention Coalition, Sierra Club of Canada,
Toxic-Free Canada, Women's Healthy Environments Network

                               BACKGROUND NOTES

    - The three Grade 10 students from Smithers, B.C. won a Create Your
      Canada contest, organized by MP Nathan Cullen and aimed at involving
      young people in Canada's parliamentary process. Out of the 80
      submissions, a panel of community leaders selected a winning entry from
      one junior and one senior school.
    - The government continues to support Canada's asbestos trade, claiming
      that, although our asbestos is known to cause cancer, rigorous safety
      standards exist in developing countries to which Canada exports over
      95% of its asbestos, and therefore it poses no risk.
    - A two-year study published by the Quebec government shows that in the
      tiny number of industrial plants in Quebec still using asbestos, there
      was a 100% failure rate to follow safety standards. "If in an advanced,
      regulated, industrialized society, like Quebec, we find a 100% failure
      to implement safety controls, it lacks credibility to say such controls
      are implemented in developing countries," says Ramsey Hart of
    - In Canada, asbestos-related disease is the most significant contributor
      to occupational mortality. A 2004 report found rates of mesothelioma
      among men in Quebec to be 9.5 times greater than for the rest of Canada
      and the rate for women to be amongst the highest in the world.(1) It is
      estimated that 1,500 workers in BC alone will die from asbestos-caused
      disease over the next five years. Asbestos continues to pose a health
      hazard, particularly in schools, as well as in many deteriorating homes
      on First Nations reserves.
    - The World Bank has just issued guidelines calling for no use of
      asbestos in any of the projects it funds around the world. The Canada
      Green Buildings Council, in its LEED (Leadership in Energy &
      Environmental Design) standards, forbids use of asbestos in all new
      construction. The Canadian government has committed itself to following
      these standards and is also spending millions of dollars to remove
      asbestos from the House of Commons.
    - The last functioning asbestos mine, LAB Chrysotile Inc. recently filed
      for bankruptcy protection. A just released study, carried out by Laval
      University students, shows impressive success by this asbestos-mining
      region of Quebec in diversifying its economy away from asbestos. The
      newly-named region - Appalaches - now employs about 400 workers, or 7
      per cent of its workers in asbestos mining, rather than the one-third
      employed in the industry in 1970.

    For further information, including the positions of various political
parties, please go to www.preventcancernow.ca

    (1) INSPQ, The Epidemiology of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Quebec, 2004; 

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Kathleen Ruff, Rideau Institute
on International Affairs and Ban Asbestos Canada, (250) 847-1848,
kruff@bulkley.net; Diana Daghofer, Prevent Cancer Now, (250) 364-8894,

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