February 18, 2019

Asbestos registry now law in Saskatchewan

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has marked the death of a man who advocated for asbestos safety by officially enacting a new law making asbestos reporting mandatory.

Thursday’s proclamation of the law will require Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and the provincial government to ensure their buildings are listed on the province’s on-line registry if there is asbestos present anywhere in their facilities.

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The law is named for Howard Willems, who died a year ago Thursday of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos while on his job as a federal food inspector.

“We’re the first (province) in Canada that has mandated a registry and the first one that has brought it up,” said Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

He gave Willems the credit for making it happen.

Willems spent years inspecting old dairy and honey facilities, which often used asbestos in building materials.

Before his death he formed the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, aiming to have the government create a public registry of buildings with asbestos in them.

On the anniversary of his stepfather’s death, Jesse Todd was there to see the new measure proclaimed.

“It’s a tremendous day,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see it pass. It’s been a long year.”

Todd stressed that this is “Howard’s legacy, hoping that the recognition of the right to know for workers will help keep them safe.”

© The Canadian Press, 2013

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Asbestos registry now law in Saskatchewan

Reporting asbestos in public buildings now mandatory

The province has passed a bill that will make Saskatchewan the first province in Canada to require mandatory reporting of asbestos in public buildings.

Under the new legislation, information about asbestos will have to be disclosed in a public registry.

“People want and deserve to have easier access to information about the presence of asbestos in public buildings,” said Dustin Duncan, the minister of health for the province.

Last November the province launched a voluntary registry and posted an online asbestos information guide.

The new legislation will require that any buildings owned by the province, such as hospitals, schools, or those used by crown corporations, must be listed in the registry if there is asbestos present.

More buildings will be added to the registry as regulations become better defined.

The legislation comes in response to the efforts of Howard Willems who died from a form cancer caused by asbestos fibres. Willems was a strong advocate of asbestos reporting.

“This registry is an important step forward in protecting Saskatchewan workers,” said Don Morgan, the provincial minister of labour relations and workplace safety.

“We are approaching the Day of Mourning when we remember those injured or lost through workplace injury and disease. All of us need to work together to make sure that all of our workers come home safe every day,” he added.

Asbestos is a heat-resistant fibrous mineral that can be woven into fabrics, used in fire-resistant and insulating materials.

According to Health Canada, asbestos has health risks only when fibres are present in the air.

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Reporting asbestos in public buildings now mandatory