Quebec Government Gives Loan Guarantee to Asbestos Mine

29 June 2012

Toronto -

The Canadian Cancer Society is deeply disappointed and frustrated that the Quebec Government has approved the loan guarantee for Jeffrey Asbestos Mine, which will allow the mine to re-open.

“This decision means the Quebec government is in direct conflict with global cancer control as all forms of asbestos cause cancer,” says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Cancer Control and Public Affairs, Canadian Cancer Society. “We urge the Quebec government reconsider its decision and cancel the loan guarantee. We believe these funds should instead be directed to projects to help the affected communities diversify their economic base.”

The Society has been lobbying Premier Jean Charest to not approve a $58 million loan guarantee to Jeffrey Mine as the Quebec government should not be supporting an industry whose product is a recognized cancer causing substance. Worldwide, about 107,000 people die annually from disease related to occupational exposure to asbestos. Asbestos mined from Quebec is a contributor to this death toll.

“This decision means that asbestos-related cancers, both in Canada and around the world, will continue to grow,” says Lapierre. “It’s imperative that the health of people around the world be put ahead of the interests of the asbestos industry.”

The Society has been joined by other health organizations – including Quebec’s regional health bureaus and the Canadian Medical Association – in urging the Quebec government not to support the mine.

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 Prior Informed Consent list.

Read more about our position 

While the Society is deeply discouraged by the approval of the loan guarantee, Lapierre says the organization is more committed than ever to continue its work on this issue. “We will not back down. We know Canadians and citizens of other countries are counting on us to protect their health.”

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 www.cancer.ca 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