Proposed new regulations to protect Canadians from exposure to asbestos

Backgrounder

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause life-threatening diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. The World Health Organization has declared all types of asbestos carcinogenic to humans.

Recognizing the significant health risks from exposure to asbestos, in December 2016 the Government of Canada launched a strategy to ban asbestos and products containing asbestos by 2018. As part of this strategy, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada have proposed new regulations which would prohibit, with a limited number of exclusions, the use, sale, import and export of asbestos and products containing asbestos, as well as the manufacture of products containing asbestos.

The objective of these regulations is to ensure that no new asbestos or products containing asbestos are allowed entry into Canada. Risks related to the continued use and sale of legacy asbestos and products containing asbestos – such as in existing buildings, equipment and vehicles – will continue to be managed by existing federal, provincial and municipal rules and regulations.

These proposed new regulations are subject to a period of public consultation. Comments received during this period will be considered in the development of the final regulations, which will come into force later in 2018.

In addition to the development of the new regulations to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos from entering the Canadian market, the government-wide strategy includes other activities to protect Canadians from asbestos exposure.

For example:

  • Employment and Social Development Canada is establishing new federal workplace health and safety rules that would drastically limit the risk of people coming into contact with asbestos on the job;
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada is expanding the current online list of asbestos-containing buildings owned or leased by the Government of Canada;
  • The National Research Council is working in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners to change the national, provincial and territorial building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects across Canada;
  • Health Canada is working to raise awareness of the health impacts of asbestos to help reduce the incidence of lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

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