A New Democrat MLA is calling on the Saskatchewan Party government to create a registry so the public can find out which government buildings have asbestos.

Cam Broten has introduced a private member's bill that would require the province to make the information available on a website.

"This is an issue of public health," Broten said before introducing the proposed public health asbestos right to know amendment act.

All forms of asbestos can cause cancer, but before that was known, the fireproof mineral was widely used as insulation across Canada, including in Saskatchewan government buildings. 

However, the minister responsible for workplace safety, Don Morgan, said a registry would not be a good idea.

Virtually all public buildings constructed before 1980 contain asbestos, and many built since also have it, Morgan said.

A registry of buildings with asbestos might be incomplete and would create a false sense of security, he said.

Broten said it's the public's right to know this information.

"Hiding this information, keeping it from the public, is backwards thinking," said Broten, who is running for the NDP leadership.

Usually, although not always, private member's bills introduced by opposition members die on the order paper.

Broten's proposed legislation follows a call earlier this year by a Saskatoon man, Howard Willems, to establish a national registry of buildings that contain the hazardous fibre.

Willems has a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos called mesothelioma which he says contracted while inspecting a number of older food plants in Saskatchewan.