MPP reintroduces private member’s bill to ban asbestos in Ontario

Jake Romphf

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey has reintroduced a private member’s bill that would ban the use of asbestos in Ontario, and it can’t come a moment too soon, a local official says.

“Nowhere is the devastation of asbestos more evident than in Sarnia, in Ontario,” said Mark Parent, executive director of the local Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers.

“Few communities in Canada have experienced such needless suffering and loss as the workers of the Chemical Valley.”

The bill would immediately prohibit the use of asbestos in Ontario and ban any products containing asbestos from being imported.

Bob Bailey

It would also recreate a registry of provincially owned or leased buildings containing the hazardous fibre.

“If anyone is going to do maintenance on them they would be made aware,” Bailey said.

A registry would also alert first responders, he added.

“When a fire call comes in, or an emergency response call, there would be an alert come up on the screen.”

The bill, which Bailey said had widespread support at Queen’s Park, disappeared when the Liberal government prorogued the legislature in March prior to this summer’s election.

Asbestos is a mineral fibre once widely used in building materials. Disturbed fibres, when inhaled, can cause diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer, according to Health Canada.

Parent said widespread industrial use has left Sarnia with the highest rates of asbestos-related cancer in Ontario. And unless it is banned immediately, asbestos will continue to inflict pain and death, he said.

“The safe use of asbestos is not practically achievable.”

Bailey said Ottawa promised to ban asbestos in 2015 and three years later the federal ban still is not in place.

“There is no justifiable reason to continue to use asbestos-containing products,” he said.