CANADA, STOP EXPORTING CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS TO ASIA!

Press Release: 9 December 2010, Manila, Philippines

Associated Labor Unions (ALU)
Building and Woodworkers International (BWI)
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)

CANADA, STOP EXPORTING CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS TO ASIA!

The Quebec government in Canada is preparing to give a loan guarantee of $58 million to rescue the asbestos industry and allow the opening of the new Jeffrey underground mine. Jeffrey Mine plans to export 200,000 tons of asbestos a year from the new underground mine to developing countries for the next 25 to 50 years. 

ALU, BWI and TUCP believe that the governments of Canada and Quebec must take responsibility for the damage that the continued production and export of chrysotile will do to workers’ health in Asia. We urge the government of Quebec not to invest the $58 million in the Jeffrey mine, and instead to invest in a program of just transition for the affected communities in Canada and asbestos-importing countries to provide them with safe, healthy, sustainable employment. 

‘Safe use’ of asbestos is a myth 

Canada has virtually banned asbestos itself and exports 95 percent of its asbestos to developing countries. Canada is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to remove asbestos from the Parliament Buildings and homes and schools across Canada. For the tiny number of industrial plants in Quebec using chrysotile asbestos, a recent two-year Quebec government study showed that there was a 100% failure rate to practice “safe use” standards. 

Canada supplied 90% of Philippine asbestos imports in 2007-2009. Trade unions confirmed that asbestos products are replaced every year not by specialist contractors but by ordinary workers who treat those asbestos wastes as ordinary wastes. The absence of special personnel protective equipments (PPEs) makes the situation more alarming. Workers are not even informed that asbestos is hazardous! 

No safe level of exposure 

The International Agency for the Research of Cancer (IARC), the WHO, the ILO, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) as well as the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Public Health Association all classify chrysotile asbestos as a potent human carcinogen and have determined that there is no safe level of exposure to it. These organizations are calling for an end to the use of chrysotile as the first step in a program to eliminate asbestos related diseases world-wide. 

Canada has the opportunity and responsibility to end the deadly asbestos legacy. Closing the asbestos mines, including Jeffery Mine, in Quebec will stop future exposure to the deadly chrysotile, minimizing the rise of deaths of innocent workers and their families.

Media Contact 
Dominador M. Tuvera
Campaign Officer
Associated Labor Unions (ALU) – TUCP Tel.: +632 922 2575; Cell.: +63 927 8095221
Email: dtuvera@gmail.com

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