The federal government plans to announce a comprehensive ban on asbestos in Canada next week, CBC News has learned.
The country currently allows imports of construction products and automotive parts that contain the toxic fibre, even though Canada no longer exports the material.
Asbestos is known to cause deadly cancers and lung diseases, and has already been banned in Europe, Australia and Japan. The World Health Organization recommends replacing asbestos with safer substitutes.
Canadian labour and public health groups have been calling for a comprehensive ban for years.
About 2,000 Canadians die of asbestos-related diseases every year — many of those deaths have been linked to asbestos exposure in the workplace.
In November, Saskatchewan New Democrat MP Sheri Benson put forward a private member's bill calling on a ban on asbestos. Asbestos in buildings is not necessarily dangerous, but it becomes a problem when the fibre is disturbed.
From time to time contractors, electricians, plumbers, custodians, firefighters and cable installers unknowingly disrupt pipes, walls, ceilings and other materials that contain the toxic fibre.
Public Services and Procurement Canada announced in April that it planned to ban the use of asbestos in that department's construction projects.
The department has also developed an inventory of its buildings that contain asbestos, and several other departments are expected to follow that lead. In the meantime, CBC has developed a map and registry that includes some 800 federal buildings across Canada.
In May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government was planning to implement a ban on asbestos and develop a building registry. "We're making sure that we are putting forward a registry of all buildings that have asbestos in them and we are moving to ban asbestos," he said.