Late last week government representatives including Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote announced that the federal government would be taking the first steps towards a comprehensive asbestos ban. Minister Philpott admitted that this ban is “long overdue” and said the goal is for it to be in place by 2018.

As part of this initiative the government also announced the creation of new health and safety regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and a plan to expand the list of asbestos-containing buildings owned or leased by Public Services and Procurement Canada to include all federal buildings that contain the substance.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen found in tens of thousands homes and buildings in Canada, and is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Its use has been condemned by the World Health Organization and it is banned in over fifty other countries. Exposure to even the smallest amount of asbestos can cause disease anywhere from ten to forty years after exposure.

The elimination of asbestos in federal buildings is an important issue for ACFO. Throughout this past summer we took part in the Canadian Labour Congress’ lobby on asbestos and have been involved in ongoing discussions on this subject. We will be keeping a close eye on the list of federal buildings that will be released in 2018 and will monitor the progress of the ban.

This is an ongoing health and safety concern and will continue to be a priority for ACFO.

If you have questions, please contact Scott Chamberlain (