January 13, 2022
(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) The BC Federation of Labour released the following statement today regarding the launch of provincial consultations on asbestos abatement licensing and training:
British Columbia’s unions are gratified to see the provincial government moving closer to acting on regulating asbestos abatement to protect workers and the public.
We hope this stage can be concluded expeditiously. The provincial government reviewed this issue thoroughly in a consultative process in which unions, industry and other stakeholders participated. That process concluded in 2018 with a report titled Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe From Asbestos, followed by an additional two-month consultation period.
That report set out a clear agenda for action, including:
- licensing asbestos-removal companies, to address the persistent presence of bad actors in the industry;
- setting training standards for asbestos-removal workers, so they have the know-how to do their jobs safely and recognize dangerous conditions; and
- mandating better asbestos disposal methods, so we’re all better protected from this lethal toxic substance.
We hope the provincial government can find whatever additional information it needs quickly, and we encourage workers across BC to add their voices. Asbestos remains the single leading cause of workplace-related death in British Columbia; preliminary numbers show that 51 workers died from asbestos-related causes in 2021 alone. Every day that goes by without action risks adding to that toll. We ask the government to act on the recommendations in the report without further delay.