Unifor welcomes federal asbestos ban

TORONTO, Dec. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - Unifor welcomes the implementation of a comprehensive federal asbestos ban by 2018.

"Asbestos is a known killer; this ban will save the lives of Canadian workers," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "For years, Unifor has been fighting for this ban as a first step, and while we've stopped future use, the government must continue the work to address damage that has already been done in terms of health and the environment."

The ban will cover the manufacture, import, export and use of asbestos nationwide, and comes following a sustained campaign by the Canadian labour movement. At Unifor's 2015 Canadian Council, a resolution was passed to ban asbestos and to work to ensure all asbestos in Unifor workplaces be removed and replaced with safe substances. This year, on both the National Day of Mourning and on Labour Day, unions across the country united in the call for a national ban on asbestos.  

"We have seen how this deadly substance ravages workers, often years after initial contact," said Unifor Director of Health, Safety and Environment Sari Sairanen. "Unifor has worked diligently to protect our members from exposure, now it's time for the government to focus on locating and safely eliminating existing asbestos to protect current and future generations."

Asbestos is the number one cause of occupational death in Canada. Exposure to asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, with exposure claiming the lives of more than 2,000 Canadians each year. Death from mesothelioma alone increased 60 per cent between 2000 and 2012.

"Our union health and safety activists have been pursuing a Canadian ban of asbestos for decades now," said Unifor National Coordinator for Health, Safety and Environment Ken Bondy. "Unifor stands in solidarity with the coalition of labour, public health, environmental and human rights groups, and above all the victims and their families to ensure the announcement today is followed with the necessary consultation needed to fully achieve protection from asbestos for all Canadians."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.


For further information: Unifor Communications National Kathleen O'Keefe at Kathleen.OKeefe@unifor.org or (cell) 416-896-3303.


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