SASKATCHEWAN IS LEADING THE COUNTRY AS WE BECOME THE FIRST PROVINCE IN CANADA TO HAVE A MANDATORY ASBESTOS REGISTRY
April 18, Saskatoon - A historic vote took place in the Saskatchewan legislature today! The Lung Association of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization want to congratulate both sides of the Saskatchewan Assembly for passing Bill 604, The Public Health (Howard's Law) Amendment Act! "This is a great example of how making public health a priority and putting aside partisan politics can lead to positive legislative change for the residents of our province. Saskatchewan is leading the country as we become the first province in Canada to have a mandatory asbestos registry," says Jennifer Miller, Vice-President of Health Promotion for the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
Howard Willems passed away in November due to asbestos exposure on the job. He was just 59 years old. Right up until his death, he advocated for a mandatory registry of public buildings that contain asbestos. "We lost our stepdad because he didn't know that there was asbestos in the buildings he entered. If he had known there was asbestos, he would have taken the necessary steps to protect himself and would still be with us today" says Jesse Todd, stepson of Howard Willems and representative from the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (SADAO).
The government adopted a voluntary registry in the fall of 2012, but it wasn't enough. "Today is a tremendous victory for our organizations and all the hard work that we have invested into this cause to support Howard's efforts during the last two years of his life. It puts our minds at ease that Saskatchewan is preventing other families from going through the loss and sadness that our family has gone through," says Jesse Todd.
The Private Member's Bill brought forward by Cam Broten was supported unanimously by the government. It will be mandatory for all buildings that contain asbestos that are under the control of the government or its agencies, to be included in an electronic public registry. To mitigate exposure to asbestos, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends creating a public registry of buildings that contain asbestos, so we are fully supporting the passing of Howard's Law which will adopt this WHO recommendation. Please note that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic and there is no safe level of exposure. If asbestos fibres are inhaled, it can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Miller states "We believe that everyone has the right to know if asbestos is present in their schools, hospitals, senior care homes, and all other public buildings so they can take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Construction workers, trades people, homeowners and first responders may be exposed to very high concentrations of asbestos fibres during renovations or emergencies. We simply want people to be educated about the buildings which have asbestos so they can take the precautionary steps needed. We have continued Howard's fight and have supported his legacy, and are delighted that the government has strengthened the Act by making the registry mandatory and naming it in his honour. This legislation will save lives! "
For more information, please contact:
Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
The Lung Association of Saskatchewan