Public Services and Procurement Canada (red), Parks Canada (purple), Correctional Service Canada (yellow), Health Canada (light blue), Canada Revenue Agency (dark blue), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (orange), National Research Council (pink), Natural Resources Canada (green).

CBC has produced a national inventory of federal buildings containing asbestos by contacting 24 federal departments and agencies that provided a list of properties containing the substance.

The federal government itself does not have a central inventory of this type.

That's despite the fact that for more than a decade, public health, political and labour groups have called for a national public registry of buildings that contain asbestos.

Map intended to inform, not cause alarm

Asbestos in buildings is not necessarily dangerous, but does become a problem when the fibre is disturbed.

From time to time, workers including contractors, electricians, plumbers, custodians, firefighters, IT and cable installers unknowingly disrupt pipes, walls, ceilings and other materials that contain the toxic fibre.

While building managers are supposed to flag the existence of asbestos on the property, those notifications are not always accessible.

Of the 24 federal departments and agencies CBC contacted, Public Services and Procurement Canada (formerly Public Works) owns the majority of facilities (as seen on the map). Corrections Canada, Parks Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, Natural Resources Canada, Global Affairs, Library and Archives Canada, Health Canada, the National Research Council, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have all provided lists of buildings that contain asbestos (also on map).

Indigenous and Northern Affairs told CBC it "does not keep a record of buildings/properties on reserves that may contain asbestos. The management and maintenance of buildings is the responsibility of First Nations."

Transport Canada owns a number of ports, airports, seaway lands and buildings across the country, but it tells CBC that it does not track asbestos contamination in a national database

Veterans Affairs Canada, Heritage Canada and the Canadian Space Agency all reported to CBC that they do not own properties that contain asbestos.

Fisheries and Oceans said it will have an inventory by summer 2016, while the departments of National Defence, Agriculture Canada and Infrastructure both reported they'll have registries in place by April 2017.

The following departments/agencies have yet to respond to requests for an inventory:

  • Environment Canada.
  • RCMP.
  • Canada Border Services.

CBC will continue to update the registry and map as information becomes available. 

Calls for official registry of all public buildings

The Canadian Labour Congress is just one of the organizations calling for the federal government to lead the way with an official registry of all public buildings that contain asbestos.

"If it shows the leadership to include their buildings, it makes it more difficult for the provinces and municipality to escape participating in that registry. So we want that to happen," said Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Yussuff said that public inventory would include schools, hospitals, banks as well as federal buildings.