National Asbestos Inventory: Health Canada (HC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) buildings

Asbestos was once common in construction materials and other products.

Some government buildings still have it. These buildings are all identified and listed. Individual asbestos management plans are in place for each building.

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List of HC- and PHAC-owned buildings

This list, which is updated annually, identifies the HC- and PHAC-owned buildings and specifies whether or not they contain asbestos.

Last updated: September 10, 2018

Department or Agency Asset Name  Address Known Presence of Asbestos Asbestos Management Plan
Health Canada Environmental Health Centre 50 Colombine Driveway, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9 Yes Yes
Laboratory Centre for Disease Control 100 Eglantine Driveway, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9 Yes Yes
Occupational Health Unit 51 Chardon Driveway, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9 Yes Yes
Radiation Protection Building 775 Brookfield Road, Ottawa, ON, K1A 1C1 Yes Yes
Sir Frederick G. Banting Research Centre 251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9 Yes Yes
Health Protection Laboratory 1001 St-Laurent Ouest, Longueuil, QC, J4K 1C7 Yes Yes
Health Canada Laboratory 2301 Midland Avenue, Toronto, ON, M1P 4R7 Yes Yes
Public Health Agency of Canada Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 3P6 No No
JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Research Centre 745 Logan Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 3L5 No No
National Microbiology Laboratory Guelph 110 Stone Road, Guelph, ON, N1G 3W4 No No

For information on all Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC)-leased facilities, please consult the National Asbestos Inventory.

About asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral valued for its:

  • strength
  • flexibility
  • resistance to heat and chemical corrosion

Before the mid-1980s, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were often used to build:

  • houses
  • schools
  • libraries
  • hospitals
  • office towers
  • apartment buildings

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has a full description of this mineral.

Since the negative health effects of exposure to asbestos became known, the use of ACMs has decreased significantly. In Canada, the use of asbestos is still allowed. However, it is strictly controlled under the Asbestos Products Regulations (SOR/2007-260), under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

Today, ACMs used in construction are only installed by qualified people in a controlled way. This ensures the health of building occupants.

Since April 1, 2016, the Government of Canada has banned the use of ACMs for new construction or major renovation government projects.

Managing asbestos for health and safety

Managing asbestos is required under the Canada Labour Code, Part II, in the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

The National Joint Council’s Occupational Health and Safety Directive, Part XI – Hazardous Substances says that an employer must comply with all related federal, provincial, territorial and municipal regulations.

Because it was added to many products and used in construction, asbestos can be difficult to identify. All government buildings are surveyed by experts to find out if asbestos is present. Inventories of ACMs have been created.

If asbestos has been found in a building, an asbestos management plan is required.

Asbestos fibres and dust can be created if asbestos is moved, broken, or disturbed. That is why asbestos is usually left in place. Exposure to asbestos fibres or dust is known to create serious negative health effects. Asbestos is only removed when it is damaged beyond repair or when it is expected that maintenance activities will disturb it.

Corrective maintenance work on ACMs is only done by trained technicians. This ensures that the necessary safeguards are put in place to protect everyone’s health and safety.

All HC/PHAC-owned buildings with ACMs are identified and monitored. When properly managed, ACMs do not pose a risk to building occupants.

Asbestos management plans

Under federal regulations, every HC/PHAC-owned building where asbestos has been identified has an asbestos management plan. These plans include:

  • an inventory of asbestos in the building
  • a summary of its condition
  • details about its location in the building
  • the best practices for asbestos management
  • an action plan to ensure ongoing safety of building occupants

As part of our asbestos management plan we conduct:

  • screening
  • monitoring
  • maintenance
  • tracking of known ACMs

These activities are used to review the condition of the ACM and decide if it will be necessary to:

  • repair it
  • remove it
  • encapsulate it

Asbestos that is in good condition is left isolated and undisturbed. HC/PHAC manages asbestos that is present in HC/PHAC-owned buildings by making sure it is in good condition.

During renovations

Before any construction or renovation project, extra surveys are done. These surveys are taken to identify all hazardous substances in the proposed renovation area, including ACMs. This is done in addition to the ongoing monitoring and management of ACMs.

Affected work locations are sealed off and contained and workers follow specific rules. Any ACMs are treated by qualified technicians, in accordance with the regulations, to ensure the safety of building occupants and technicians.

During construction projects that include asbestos abatement (removal), air sampling is done to test if asbestos fibres are present in the air.

The current practice is to only do a full asbestos abatement in a building during major upgrading. In rare cases full abatement may not be possible, as that would mean having to demolish the building. In such instances, the asbestos is left in place and managed by an asbestos management plan. The plan ensures the health and safety of building occupants. Each unique case is identified and reviewed by experts.

Building occupants are always told when renovations or abatement work is being done and are informed of any health risks.

Unforeseen events

Regular and detailed surveys are made in buildings to identify ACMs. Inspections are also done after any event that could have damaged or disturbed ACMs, such as an earthquake or flood. If a hazard is identified due to damaged or disturbed ACMs, steps are taken to repair or remove the material.

Leased buildings and federal housing units

Under federal and provincial regulations, building owners or employers must identify all known ACMs in their buildings. Building owners must comply with Canada Labour Code requirements related to asbestos management. They must also have an asbestos management plan in place if asbestos is found or identified. This applies to all PSPC-leased spaces.

PSPC only leases space from owners who meet the legislative requirements. Landlords are required by law to inform PSPC of the presence and condition of asbestos in their building (if any). PSPC gives this information to the department occupying the leased space.

Asbestos management plans are required for leased buildings where asbestos has been identified. Depending on their location, landlords are subject to various federal, provincial and territorial workplace safety authorities.

If asbestos has recently been discovered in the government workplace

If asbestos is found in an HC/PHAC-owned building, HC/PHAC will notify the Responsible Building Authority (RBA) or Most Senior Official (MSO).

It is the responsibility of the RBA/MSO to share that information with their Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) committee or representative.

If a building is leased by HC/PHAC, the building landlord will give their findings to PSPC. PSPC will communicate these findings to HC/PHAC’s Real Property groups who will in turn communicate them to the RBA or MSO for the building.

WHS committees or representatives are advised and engaged as necessary, when health and safety risks to occupants are identified.

If asbestos was recently found, an asbestos management plan may not yet be in place. PSPC is working with landlords to make sure that asbestos management plans are developed for the small number of leased buildings that do not yet have one.

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