Canada set to announce a new ban on asbestos

Francesco Spertini holds a chunk of chrysotile asbestos with his bare hands at the now closed Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Que., in an August 10, 2016, file photo. The federal government is banning the use of asbestos in products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is set to announce Canada’s new ban on asbestos today — but critics say the rules don’t go far enough.

Cabinet approved the regulations at the end of September, and they’ll take effect at the end of the year.

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They bar the import, sale or use of processed asbestos fibres and products containing them, as well as consumer products that have more than trace amounts of asbestos.

But they don’t apply to residues left over from mining asbestos — which includes about 800 million tonnes of residue near mines in two Quebec towns.

As much as 40 per cent of the leftover rock still contains asbestos.

READ MORE: Bags filled with asbestos dumped in Burnaby alley

Kathleen Ruff, an expert on asbestos, says it’s disappointing Ottawa is allowing an exemption from the ban.

Gilles Mercier, whose father died of asbestos-related lung cancer last year, says the federal regulations are a “good start.”

But he says they don’t go far enough to protect potential workers who could be exposed to asbestos fibres.

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