Canada’s largest labour organization holds campaign hoping to ban asbestos
The Canadian Labour Congress is out to ban asbestos, saying the flaky mineral is the leading cause of workplace related death in the country, and something needs to be done before more workers are affected.
Retired shipbuilder Donnie Taylor worked in asbestos for32 years, and says he had no idea he was exposed to it at the time. On Thursday, Taylor shared his story at a press conference in Halifax, supporting the CLC's campaign to have asbestos banned nation-wide.
"Every ship before the Second World War, was all asbestos, that was the miracle material,” says Taylor. "Between new construction and repair work, you were in it every day, every day, there was no getting away from it."
The CLC says Canadian imports of asbestos grew from $4.7 million in 2011 to $8.2 million in 2015.
"It's still entering the country even though it may not be manufactured here - it's manufactured overseas in places like China and India and then it's re-imported,” says Stephen Conrad of Unifor Marine Workers Federation. "There are so many new technologies and new installations; you don't really need asbestos anymore. You might have needed it at one time, but with technology these days I don't think you need asbestos in the workplace anymore."
Asbestos is stillwidely used, and commonly found in old buildings that many people live and work in.
"In terms of asbestos, you need to know what you're getting into. You need to know what you're putting in your home, so anything that can cause a health risk,” says Sherry Donovan of the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association. “It's about being aware, so making sure that if there is asbestos that there are plans in place, making sure that you work with a professional that knows how to remediate it and remove it."
The CLC says more than 2,000 people die every year after exposure to asbestos.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau