Deceased Mesothelioma Victim’s Fight Continues in Legislature

by Sokolove Law

Health advocates are urging Saskatchewan lawmakers to pass “Howard’s Law,” legislation to make it mandatory for all asbestos-containing public buildings to be listed in an electronic database.

As reported by Canadian-based radio station CKOM, the bill’s goal is to help safeguard the public from deadly asbestos. Howard’s Law (bill 604) was introduced last November, and is named after Howard Willems, an asbestos activist who died last year of mesothelioma. (Mesothelioma is a deadly asbestos-caused cancer.) The bill is currently awaiting a vote by the provincial legislature.

“That was Howard’s wish, just that people have that knowledge and that the proper people deal with it,” said Jennifer Miller of the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

Willems, the co-founder of the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, had been lobbying for just such a publically accessible asbestos registry. While the government adopted a voluntary registry program last year, it doesn’t go far enough, said Willems’ stepson, Jesse Todd. This is because the registry doesn’t include information to identify the asbestos’ location and its condition.

“For people, especially construction workers going into these buildings, it’s important to know where the asbestos is located,” said Todd. “If they just start punching holes into these buildings, who knows what they are going to release into the air,” he continued. Exposure to airborne asbestos, even a small amount, can cause a range of asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma cancer.

Todd said the governing party hasn’t moved on the mandatory registry. “They have stated that they believe it is going to be a financial strain,” he said. “I just don’t believe that’s a valid concern. Unfortunately I believe it’s just political posturing at this time. It’s really unfortunate that a public health issue has to become a political issue.”

The United States doesn’t have a national listing program. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did once have a registry in place called the National Asbestos Registry System. However, the current EPA Web site states, “The National Asbestos Registry System (NARS) Web page is no longer available. State and local agencies are no longer required to submit data uploads for inclusion in NARS.”

If you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused illness, remember, you have rights. Asbestos laws are in place to help victims get the just compensation they need and deserve. Call Sokolove Law to get a free case evaluation today from a lawyer specializing in mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuits.

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