NDP, dying man want asbestos registry in Sask.
A Saskatoon man who is dying from an asbestos-related cancer is urging the province to make lists of public buildings that contain asbestos available to everyone.
Howard Willems wants people to know if they're going into a building that contains asbestos. He worked as a building inspector for 31 years, and he now suffers from a rare cancer that's linked to asbestos.
"Everyone has the right to know how to be safe," says Willems.
Willems' story inspired the NDP to introduce a private members bill that would require details about asbestos containment in public buildings to be listed online. New Democrat Cam Broten says the bill would allow people to take steps to protect themselves.
"This is common sense legislation. It simply requires a listing of the public buildings with asbestos and some basic detail about its safety. It's not about spending money for clean-up, it simply allows people to make an informed decision," says Broten.
But the Saskatchewan Party says there are already regulations in place to maintain and keep track of the hazardous fiber. Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan says a registry creates a false sense of security and the best assumption anyone can make is that all buildings built before 1980 contain asbestos.
"The assumption should be there that whenever dealing with a building, asbestos is there, and that appropriate steps be taken to it, and people should not rely on a registry that may be incomplete of may not have accurate information."
Willems says the province already has a list of its properties that contain asbestos. Now the list just needs to be made available. "This is not about enforcing regulations or creating fear. It's about educating people."
Asbestos becomes airborne if disturbed during construction and those hazardous fibres can be inhaled.