IUPAT and Canada’s Building Trades Unions Applaud Announcement of a Comprehensive Ban on Asbestos

The International Union of Building and the rest of Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) are very pleased with the Government’s announcement of its whole-of-government approach to ban the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos in Canada. Bob Blakely, CBTU Chief Operating Officer, noted that, “this announcement reflects this government’s commitment to the health and safety of the Canadian workforce and indeed, all Canadians.”

The IUPAT joined fellow Canadian Building Trades members for the announcement of asbestos ban in Canada today.
The IUPAT joined fellow Canadian Building Trades members for the announcement of asbestos ban in Canada today. From left to right; Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, IUPAT Local 200 apprentices Davy-John Pacheco and Kevin Harvey.

Workplace exposure to asbestos is one of the leading causes of workplace-related death within the membership of the affiliated unions of CBTU. Fred Clare, the International Vice President of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, celebrated the Prime Minister’s statement, saying that “the Prime Minister promised us at our General Conference in May that he would ban asbestos, and now he has. I am proud to live in Canada where government will actually act to preserve the lives of our members.”

Canada’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 15 building and construction unions that represent a membership of more than 500,000 skilled tradespeople across Canada.

Robert Kucheran, Chairman of the Canadian Executive Board of CBTU and General Vice President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, says “this is an important step in setting things right with all working Canadians, while many of our members will continue to suffer the effects of exposure, this is a sign that the government understands the pain asbestos has caused within our workforce.”

Mesothelioma, the cancer related to asbestos exposure, can take 20 to 40 years to develop and begin causing symptoms. The mortality rate is devastating, about 60 per cent of those affected die within a year of diagnosis, and the five-year survival rate is less than 7%.  Blakely went on to say, “While this announcement will reduce the chances for asbestos exposure in the next generation, Canadian workers and their families will feel the impacts of having worked near asbestos for years to come.”