Concerns about Canada’s continued use and import of asbestos

2017 Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCESD Report 5
Case study: Concerns about Canada’s continued use and import of asbestos

Petition: 387

Issue(s): Human/environmental health, toxic substances

Petitioner(s): Canadian organization

Petitioner Location(s): Toronto, Ontario and Ottawa, Ontario

Date Received: 17 December 2015

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition asserts that Canada’s “controlled use” approach regarding asbestos does not adequately prevent harm to human health. The petition states that Canada’s approach is out of line with current practices and notes inconsistencies in the scope of regulatory measures across provinces and territories. The petition also seeks to clarify Canada’s position on its continued use of asbestos despite a growing body of evidence demonstrating harm due to exposure to asbestos.

The petition states that Canada’s current approach does not coincide with the precautionary principle, given that mesothelioma and other diseases resulting from asbestos exposure would constitute irreversible damages for hundreds of Canadians every year. The petition asks whether the government has applied the precautionary principle in developing regulatory and non-regulatory measures regarding consumer products that contain asbestos. It requests an outline of regulatory and non-regulatory measures undertaken in Canada for all types of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, and other legislation.

Finally, the petition asks whether the government is considering modifications to current regulations in light of recent international changes. Such modifications would include a prohibition of asbestos from all consumer products, including children’s toys.

Federal departments responsible for reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada