Saskatchewan, First Canadian Province, to Create Asbestos Registry
Saskatchewan, the first province to introduce universal health coverage in Canada is now leading the charge to protect its citizens from asbestos.
On November 13th, Workplace Safety Minister, Don Morgan, announced that the province will create an asbestos information website listing government buildings that contain asbestos.
“What we would like to do … is take every step we can to have a greater amount of public knowledge, public understanding and ensure that contractors or people that are working in areas where asbestos is located know about it and know the steps that they need to take,” he said.
The registry follows the death last week of Howard Willems, a former building inspector, who died from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that comes from inhaling asbestos fibres. According to Willems, people should be aware of asbestos in buildings, especially if construction is being done. He said that he would have taken steps to protect himself had he known there was asbestos in the buildings he inspected.
Although Willems family are happy with this government initiative, they think the government should do more.
“It’s a good first step, but that’s really all it is, it’s a first step,” said Willems’s stepson Jesse Todd.
“If you read what’s on their website, they’re saying that there will be no list for schools or hospitals or for health region buildings. It will be voluntary information submitted by these people and a voluntary program is just not going to work. We need to have a mandatory program where all health regions and school districts have to submit information about buildings containing asbestos.”
Todd said his stepfather wanted parents to know if their children’s schools have asbestos, especially if renovations are being done.
“It’s a pretty scary thought you know, to think of how many kids could be exposed and the future consequences.”
The Opposition NDP introduced a private member’s bill in the Saskatchewan legislature that would require details about asbestos containment in public buildings be listed online. The bill, which the NDP suggests be called Howard’s Law, has had a second reading in the assembly.
All provinces should create a registry! The video below, which features an interview with Willems, explains why this has not happened. It all revolves around financial concerns, which could cost governments billions in compensation suits.
Let’s hope the Saskatchewan initiative will serve as a catalyst for other provinces to follow suit.
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— Got #Mold?™ (@gotmoldglobal) November 14, 2012