Canadian Cancer Society Disappointed with Proposed Federal Government Funding for Chrysotile Institute

03 March 2011

Toronto -

The Canadian Cancer Society is deeply disappointed that the Federal Government included funding for the Chrysotile Institute when it tabled its spending plans for 2010-11 in the House of Commons on March 1.

The Chrysotile Institute is registered as a lobby group for the asbestos industry and promotes the use of asbestos and the export of asbestos to the developing world.

“From a public health point of view, the Federal Government has made the wrong decision in proposing this funding, as all forms of asbestos cause cancer,” says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Public Affairs and Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. “We urge the government to put the health of people first and to stop funding the Chrysotile Institute. The government’s plan to use taxpayers' dollars to support the asbestos industry directly conflicts with global cancer control.”

Chrysotile asbestos is the only form of asbestos sold today and like all forms of asbestos it is known to cause cancer and other disease. Industrialized countries such as Canada have stopped using asbestos because of the health risks and the high economic costs. Because over 50 countries have banned chrysotile asbestos, the asbestos industry is working to increase sales of this substance in developing countries. .

Chrysotile asbestos is almost entirely used for asbestos-cement building materials. The World Health Organization has expressed deep concern that these construction materials are used in schools and homes around the world and will cause harm to human health for decades.

On February 15, the Society and 25 other health organizations sent a letter to Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty urging him to stop funding to the Chrysotile Institute and to cease supporting the export of asbestos to the developing world.

The groups strongly recommended that funding previously given to the Chrysotile Institute be redirected towards the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to address all aspects of the asbestos issue, including:

  • immediately setting a clear timetable for phasing out the use and export of asbestos
  • the implementation of a national surveillance system to track health outcomes of people who have been exposed to asbestos
  • the creation of a public registry of buildings that contain asbestos
  • the provision of transition support for affected communities
  • the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent List (for hazardous substances)

“Worldwide about 107,000 people die every year from disease related to occupational exposure to asbestos,” says Lapierre. “ Despite this setback, the Society will continue to work hard to end exposure to asbestos.”

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340