Horgan pledges to improve B.C. asbestos rules, protect workers

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VANCOUVER— A B.C. New Democrat government would address the leading cause of work-related deaths in B.C. by bringing in a mandatory contractor licencing and worker certification program for asbestos removal, says New Democrat Leader John Horgan.

“Asbestos exposure is responsible for nearly half of all workplace fatalities in B.C., and it’s an ongoing problem – up to 25,000 B.C. workers are put in danger every year,” said Horgan.

“That’s why we will introduce a mandatory contractor licencing and worker certification program for asbestos removal. We want to to ensure no more workers have their lives shortened by asbestos exposure.”

Under the Christy Clark government a number of companies have been allowed to continually ignore the law regarding asbestos, putting workers and the public at risk.

“The Christy Clark government has let repeat offenders – companies who endanger their employees and the public – ignore the law without consequences,” said Horgan.

“That will end under a B.C. New Democrat government. We will protect workers from the harms of asbestos.

“We will make sure workers are properly trained to remove asbestos safely.

“And we won’t let unscrupulous operators mock our laws and undercut legitimate companies who protect their workers.

“We will also establish a provincial asbestos registry of public buildings known to contain asbestos, to protect workers in those buildings.”

Carcinogen Exposure (CAREX) Canada estimates that over 200 B.C. workers get cancer each year because of their past exposure to asbestos. It can take decades for health problems related to asbestos to appear.

“Each year, hundreds of workers are given the devastating news that asbestos has caused irreparable damage to their lungs, or an aggressive form of cancer that cannot be cured,” said Horgan.

“We need to help those workers, and we’re going to do that by reinstating WorkSafeBC compensation to retired workers suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.

“It’s the right thing to do, and my government would do it.”