Asbestos in federal buildings


Over the last few years there has been sustained interest among the media and Members of Parliament regarding the presence of asbestos in federal buildings, possible human exposure, and Government plans to remove it:

Questions on the Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations to complete the ban of asbestos in Canada should be referred to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change or the Minister of Health

Questions on the July 2017 amendments to the Canada Labour Code provisions on Asbestos should be referred to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

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Asbestos management has been the subject of discussion and petitions by the public and Parliamentarians over the past few years.

Unions and the medical community have been advocating to ban asbestos use and to establish a national registry of buildings containing asbestos.

An announcement on the ban of asbestos in Canada and other measures was made by the Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, on December 15, 2016. In July 2017, Employment and Social Development Canada amended the provision on asbestos in the Canada Labour Code Part II. On December 30, 2018, under the sponsorship of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada, the Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations, as well as related amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations, came into force.

PSPC banned the use of asbestos-containing materials in its new construction and major renovation projects on April 1, 2016. This direction was integrated into the PSPC standard Invitation to Tender. Managing asbestos is a requirement of the Canada Labour Code (Part II—Occupational Health and Safety), its subordinate regulations, applicable government policies and applicable provincial, territorial and municipal regulations.

Custodial Departments and Agencies are updating their respective National Asbestos Inventories of buildings that contain asbestos on an annual basis. PSPC continues to update its inventory of buildings that contain asbestos every six months. As of June 2019, there are 261 crown owned and leased-purchased buildings in the PSPC portfolio with a known presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs). All of these buildings have an asbestos management plan.

PSPC crown owned buildings that have ACMs are identified and monitored in accordance with federal regulations. PSPC identifies ACMs in their buildings and develops asbestos management plans, conduct annual reassessments of the condition of ACMs, and either repair, encapsulate or remove any ACMs that are not in good condition. Corrective work is conducted by specialized technicians who put safeguards in place to protect the continued health and safety of building occupants. Asbestos Management plans are updated at least every 5 years or as required based on the outcome of the annual reassessment.

Federal accommodations under the mandate of PSPC represent 27% of the total floor area of federal buildings.

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