Canadian Cancer Society Statement about Canada’s opposition to adding chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention’s listing of hazardous substances (“Prior Informed Consent” list)

23 June 2011

Toronto -

The Canadian Cancer Society is shocked and embarrassed that the Canadian delegation has chosen to oppose adding chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention, a list of hazardous substances. This is the third time Canada has played a role in blocking the inclusion of asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention, which operates by consensus.

“This is an unethical decision. We know that all forms of asbestos cause cancer and we are frustrated and deeply concerned about Canada’s lack of leadership on this important worldwide health issue,” says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Public Affairs and Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. “It’s imperative that the health of people around the world be put ahead of the interests of the asbestos industry. The federal government is continuing to ignore the advice of its own health department which recommended in 2006 that Canada support the addition of this substance.”

Worldwide about 107,000 people die every year from disease related to occupational exposure to asbestos.

The Society will continue to work hard to end exposure to asbestos including lobbying the federal government to add chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention.

The Canadian Cancer Society believes that all efforts must be made to eliminate exposure to asbestos and to eliminate asbestos-related diseases. The Society is urging the federal government to adopt a comprehensive strategy to address all aspect of the asbestos issue, including:

  • immediately setting a clear timetable for phasing out the use and export of asbestos;
  • implementing a national surveillance system to track health outcomes of people who have been exposed to asbestos;
  • creating a public registry of buildings that contain asbestos;
  • providing transition support for affected communities;
  • including chrysotile on the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous products (called the “Prior Informed Consent” list.)

 Read more about our position

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