Canadian Labour Congress write to Prime Minister re: chrysotile and Rotterdam Convention

Posted: Monday, 20 June 2011

Dear Prime Minister:

At the upcoming fifth Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, the 143 countries that have ratified will decide whether to put chrysotile asbestos on the Convention’s list of hazardous substances.

The science is clear. The Chemical Review Committee, the Rotterdam Convention’s expert body composed of 31 scientists from around the world, including Canada, has repeatedly unanimously recommended that chrysotile asbestos be added to the Prior Informed Consent List. Senior advisors in our own Health Canada have echoed the need for chrysotile asbestos’ inclusion in the Prior Informed Consent List. Here at home, asbestos is listed as a hazardous substance under Canadian law. The evacuation of the West Block of the Parliament buildings for safety reasons in order to remove existing asbestos (amocite and chrysotile), the removal of asbestos in your home at 24 Sussex and the annually increasing number of Canadian asbestos-related fatalities from mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis should be a stark reminder of the hazards of chrysotile asbestos.

Despite the science and death toll at home, for more than seven years, Canada, along with a handful of other countries, has blocked chrysotile asbestos’ inclusion in the Rotterdam convention for no other reason than the protection of the asbestos industry at the expense of the protection of global health. When we recognize the hazards of chrysotile asbestos at home and export chrysotile to developing countries, how can we then deny countries’ right to know about the hazards of chrysotile asbestos? Your government’s position is an embarrassment to what Canada stands for.

The Canadian government needs to listen to expert evidence and advice and ensure chrysotile asbestos is included in the Rotterdam convention. Moreover, the government should support a ban on all asbestos production, support workers’ transition and stop providing financial support to a toxic industry which kills an average of ninety thousand people each year and continues to do so.

On behalf of the millions of citizens in developing countries who do not have the knowledge to safely deal with this deadly carcinogen, we implore you to ensure that asbestos is added to the Prior Informed Consent list and to put an end to Canada’s shameful position on asbestos.


Kenneth V. Georgetti
Canadian Labour Congress