Credits: YVES CHARLEBOIS/QMI AGENCY
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) congratulated the federal government for dropping its longtime opposition to listing asbestos as a hazardous material.
Companies who export the popular building material will now be required to warn their customers that the fire-resistant substance can cause cancer and other illnesses.
The announcement was made Friday by Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis.
The CMA has been demanding a ban on the use and exportation of asbestos for several years, and has supported the international designation of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical.
Canada has strict restrictions on the domestic use of the material, but it is the world's fifth-largest exporter of chrysotile asbestos.
Paradis also said that the federal government will provide up to $50 million to help asbestos mining communities in Quebec “transition” to other economies.
The CMA welcomed the move, saying that "federal funds to support economic diversification in asbestos-producing communities is very important to supporting health and providing alternatives to the mining of a dangerous substance."
In a statement, Paul Lapierre, a spokesman with the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), said. "We are very pleased to see that the government recognizes that all form of asbestos, including chysotile, cause cancer. It's imperative that the health of people around the world be put ahead of the interests of the asbestos industry. We also welcome the government's $50 million plan to support the affected community."
The CCS says about 107,000 people around the world die every year from occupational exposure to asbestos.