We feel abandoned and betrayed by our government, say asbestos victims

Thu, Oct 13, 2011


OCTOBER 13, 2011

Medical doctors, health advocates and asbestos victims today appealed to federal Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, to take action on the increasing number of cases of asbestos-related disease occurring in Canada.

“Each of these cases represents terrible heartbreak and suffering for the person and their family,” said Heidi von Palleske, whose father and mother both died from mesothelioma from having been exposed to chrysotile asbestos from the Jeffrey mine (formerly the Johns Manville mine) in Quebec. “Victims of asbestos are demanding that the Minister of Health take action. We feel abandoned and betrayed by our government.”

“Shocking new figures, released by Statistics Canada, show a relentless rise in the number of Canadians with asbestos-related disease,” stated Dr Fernand Turcotte, professor emeritus of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Laval Univeristy. “In the past 15 years, the number of new cases of mesothelioma – a deadly disease known only to be caused by asbestos – has almost doubled from 276 cases in 1992 to 512 cases in 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available. For each case of mesothelioma, it is conservatively estimated that there are two or more cases of lung cancer caused by asbestos. This means that, in 2007, over 1,536 Canadians became victims of deadly asbestos-related disease. This is a tragedy of colossal proportions. It is a tragedy that the Minister of Health must address,”

“We demand that Minister Aglukkaq stop hiding her head in the sand and start acting like a Minister of Health,” said Stacy Cattran, who lost her father to asbestos. “She should be protecting the health of Canadians, not protecting the asbestos industry.”

“What makes these numbers particularly tragic is that they should never have happened,” said Kathleen Ruff, senior human rights adviser, Rideau Institute. “We have known for decades that asbestos kills and all use of asbestos should end. But politics have trumped science and the asbestos industry, to this day, maintains a stranglehold over government policy.”

“The Canadian Cancer Society and Canada’s leading medical organisations have asked you take action to ban the use and export of asbestos, to prevent further asbestos harm to Canadians and to create sustainable, healthy jobs for the asbestos mining region,” said Dr Kapil Khatter, former president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

“Please listen to Canada’s medical experts and Canada’s asbestos victims,” said Cathy Conrad, whose father died earlier this year from mesothelioma. “Do the right thing for Canadians.”


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