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 15, 2020

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 inventory of asbestos in federal buildings and National inventory of asbestos PSPC buildings

About asbestos

Asbestos is the common name for a group of naturally occurring minerals, all of which carry health risks. At the height of its use, asbestos was found in more than 3,000 applications worldwide, including roofing, thermal and electrical insulation, cement pipe and sheets, flooring, gaskets, friction materials (e.g. brake pads and shoes) and a variety of other materials. The production and use of asbestos have declined since 1970.

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

Legislative context

In October 2018, the final Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II: Vol.152, No. 21. These regulations prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos, as well as the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos, with some exceptions. These regulations are published under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), and came into force on December 30, 2018.

Because these regulations are more stringent than existing regulatory controls under the Asbestos Products Regulations made under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, the Asbestos Products Regulations was repealed.

In addition, the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations have been amended to list all forms of asbestos on the Export Control List (Schedule 3 to CEPA 1999).

Health Canada will also continue to raise awareness about the health impacts of asbestos to help reduce the incidence of diseases such as lung cancer.

As of April 1, 2016, asbestos is prohibited from all new Public Services and Procurement Canada construction and major renovations.

Managing asbestos for health and safety

Managing asbestos in the context of work place is required under the Canada Labour Code, Part II, in the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations - Part X.

In addition, the National Joint Council's Occupational Health and Safety Directive, Part XI - Hazardous Substances says that an employer shall comply with applicable federal, provincial, territorial and municipal regulations, statutes and requirements with respect to asbestos containing materials (ACM) in any government-owned, managed or leased facilities.

Asbestos management plans and inventories

All Government-owned buildings have an asbestos management plan in place. This plan serves to provide details of the location and condition of the asbestos in the building. 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

Federal building owners must identify ACMs in their buildings, conduct annual reassessments of the condition of ACMs, and either repair, encapsulate or remove any ACMs that are not in good condition. As part of our asbestos management plan we conduct:

  • screening
  • monitoring
  • maintenance
  • tracking of known ACMs

Inspections are also done after any unforeseen 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.

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. 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. The employer must keep the report related to the ACMs hazard investigation for at least 30 years.

Therefore, required protective measures are put in place to protect health and safety of all. When properly managed, ACMs do not pose a risk to building occupants.

Employees should contact their work place health and safety committee to obtain the building's asbestos management plan.

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. The regulations determine health and safety procedures based on renovation activities. Some require an air sample to be taken to verify that asbestos fibers 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.

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.

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 Work place 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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