Federal regulations banning asbestos in Canada

On December 30, 2018, federal regulations came into force banning asbestos and products made with asbestos in Canada. The regulations prohibit the import, sale, and use of asbestos, and the import, sale, use, and manufacture of products containing asbestos. These regulations have superseded previous regulations on asbestos use in Canada, as they are more stringent and comprehensive.

The Government of Canada website has answers to frequently asked questions about the regulations. The press release also has more information.

Below are some quick facts related to the legislation:

  • Asbestos was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987.
  • At the height of its use, asbestos was found in more than 3,000 applications worldwide; however, production and use have declined since the 1970s.
  • Effective April 1, 2016, the Government of Canada introduced a ban on the use of asbestos-containing materials in all new construction and renovation projects under the purview of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).
  • On April 17, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced new occupational health and safety regulations to minimize harm caused by asbestos in workplaces (press release).
  • PSPC has published a National Asbestos Inventory of federal buildings containing asbestos that it owns or leases.
  • Risks related to asbestos-containing products that are already in use or installed—such as in existing buildings, equipment, and vehicles—will continue to be managed by existing federal, provincial, and municipal rules and regulations.
  • There are no significant health risks if materials containing asbestos in homes are tightly bound and left undisturbed.
  • The government participates in the Rotterdam Convention, whose objective is to protect human health and the environment by promoting informed decisions about the import and management of certain hazardous chemicals.

This legislation was the result of an initiative announced by the government on December 15, 2016. At that time, the Honourable Jane Philpott, then-Minister of Health commented on the decision, stating that “Across Canada and the world, asbestos-related cancers continue to hurt Canadian families and pose a significant burden for our health care systems. Our government is taking action to protect Canadians from substances such as asbestos that can be harmful to their health and safety.”

Canadian Cancer Survivor Network President & CEO Jackie Manthorne commended the government “for moving forward with this initiative. With direct evidence proving that asbestos can cause both mesothelioma and lung cancer, we support the decision that works towards removing this material from Canadian buildings and homes. We also encourage the federal government to continue to focus on providing Canadians with safe and healthy environments.”

If you are interested in learning more about asbestos, mesothelioma and lung cancer, please click here.