To make matters worse, the university is contesting the decision by CNESST, the government insurer for Québec’s workers and employers, to recognize that these illnesses are occupational diseases developed due to work exposures on campus.
“Today, the Association des victimes de l’amiante du Québec (AVAQ) is sending a public letter to the Rector of the Université de Montréal asking him to withdraw the University’s challenge to the CNESST’s decision to compensate Professor Renaud for an occupational disease,” wrote Michel Camus and Norman King, both Scientific Advisors to AVAQ and both epidemiologists. “This letter has received the support of some 70 scientific signatories, including respirologists, internationally renowned asbestos expert researchers, physicians and other professionals in public health and occupational health and safety, as well as professors from various universities.”
ADAO stands strongly with the signatories to this letter.
“The university’s challenge denies fundamental scientific knowledge and facts proven over decades at the expense of thousands of mesothelioma victims,” said Camus. “Our [first] aim is to make a stand against asbestos science denial, and to restate the established knowledge about the relation between pleural mesothelioma and asbestos exposures, even low ones, such as encountered by white collar workers.”
The letter is also a stark reminder that there is still propaganda surrounding the use of asbestos — many people likely do not know that it is still legal and lethal in the United States, and that legacy asbestos exists in millions of homes, buildings, and schools around North America. For decades, until it banned asbestos in 2018, Canada’s government defended the economic interests of the asbestos industry — something the U.S. government still does today. We need to recognize the impact that asbestos has had around the world — nearly one million deaths in the U.S. alone since 1989. Sadly, asbestos continues to have a lethal impact on innocent people, including the professors at the University of Montreal.
We must work together to prevent further exposures and deaths in North America, and around the world. Only together will we be able to prevent asbestos exposure and therefore asbestos-caused illnesses.
“AVAQ is asking that the presumption recognizing pleural mesothelioma associated with exposure to asbestos fibres in the workplace as an occupational disease be made irrebuttable (non-challengeable),” write King and Camus. “This would prevent contestation of this occupational disease by employers and would spare victims and their families additional delays and suffering caused by lengthy and painful legal proceedings with no scientific basis.” Alec Farquhar, Coordinator of Asbestos Free Canada, noted that the province of Ontario has had such an irrebuttable presumption in its legislation for almost 30 years, resulting in swift uncontested workers’ compensation for several thousand mesothelioma victims and their families.
Our solidarity is one of our greatest assets and ADAO stands with the Canadian and global community in support of mesothelioma victim, Professor Renaud, and asking the University of Montreal to withdraw the challenge which denies the fundamental science that the world acknowledges.
Together, we can make a difference.
Linda Reinstein, ADAO, Social Networks