Did Canada Finally Drop Curtain on Asbestos Industry?

by Sokolove Law

Canada, long one of the few remaining industrialized nations to insist on asbestos’ safety, has finally put another, and possibly final, nail in its own asbestos industry’s coffin.

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports, the government will commit $50 million (in Canadian currency) to “support economic diversification efforts” in the asbestos mining communities of Thetford Mines and Asbestos. That cash was originally earmarked towards a loan to fund the reopening of Canada’s last major asbestos mine. Not anymore.

In diverting the money from the mine, politicians promised to find other ways to economically boost Quebec’s asbestos-producing region. For many years, the Canadian government held fast to the story that the chrysotile, or “white” asbestos, mined in the Quebec region was safe. Leaders vigorously opposed strict regulations to limit the use and export of asbestos.

They also opposed adding the carcinogenic material to an international list of toxic substances. The list, part of the Rotterdam Convention, would not prohibit the use or export of asbestos — it would simply require an asbestos exporter to warn importing nations that a toxic material could be hazardous. Until recently, as the Press notes, Canada was exporting more than 150,000 tons of asbestos to developing nations such as India every year, despite stringent prohibitions against its domestic use.

One Canadian politician promises to keep fighting for a total ban on the substance. Minister of Parliament from Manitoba Pat Martin (who has lung damage from working in an asbestos mine), promises that he “won’t stand down until they ban asbestos in all its forms.”

In the United States, asbestos is still a major cause for concern. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that between 1999 and 2005, 18,068 people died from asbestos-caused malignant mesothelioma. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition, you may be eligible for compensation in the form of a mesothelioma settlement. Contact Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation today.

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