Saskatchewan legislature makes history

18 April 2013

Regina -

The Canadian Cancer Society is applauding the Saskatchewan legislature for passing Howard’s Law today.  The Public Health (Howard’s Law) Amendment Act will make it mandatory for all buildings that contain asbestos that are under the control of the government or its agencies, to be included in an electronic public registry.  With today’s vote, Saskatchewan becomes the first province in the country to have a mandatory asbestos registry.  

“Saskatchewan is once again showing leadership in health care by providing Canada’s first legislative framework for an asbestos building registry.  The Canadian Cancer Society will use Howard’s Law to encourage all provinces, territories and even the federal government to follow to our lead,” says Dan Demers, director, national public issues for the Canadian Cancer Society. “This registry will lower cancer rates and save lives.”  

 “Today is an example of democracy at its best,” says Donna Ziegler, director cancer control for the Society. “Protecting public health is a non-partisan issue and all members of the Saskatchewan legislature should be congratulated for working together to pass common sense legislation that will save lives.”

From the 1920’s to the 1990’s asbestos was used as insulation and sound proofing in buildings throughout Canada.  It is estimated that more than 240,000 homes and public buildings across the country were insulated with materials that may contain asbestos.

According to the latest estimates from CAREX Canada approximately 4,200 workers across Saskatchewan are exposed to asbestos each year– exposure that an individual may not even know about until ten or twenty years later – when it is often too late to address.  This is what happened to Howard Willems who died in November from an asbestos-related cancer.   The 59 year old Saskatoon man was unknowingly exposed to asbestos in the buildings he inspected.  Right up until his death, he advocated for a mandatory public registry.

“Asbestos is the leading cause of industrial deaths in Canada and this Bill marks a real step forward in addressing the dangers of asbestos by empowering the people of Saskatchewan with the information they need to protect themselves, their coworkers and their families,” added  Ziegler .

The Society would also like to thank the family of Howard Willems for their support and determination in seeing this legislation brought forward and passed.  Ensuring that the people of Saskatchewan have the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones is a tremendous achievement and a proud legacy.

The Society is urging the government to quickly proclaim the legislation and to get the registry up and running so that the people of Saskatchewan are protected as soon as possible.

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:

Donna Pasiechnik

Manager, Tobacco Control, Media & Government Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Saskatchewan Division

Phone: 306-790-9871