Asbestos: Canada’s shame (Editor’s Notes)

Quebec’s decision to give $58-million loan guarantee to reopen mine not the example Canada should be setting
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/17/2012

They’re applauding in a small town in Quebec, and they’re getting sick and dying in India. The provincial government’s decision to provide a $58 million loan guarantee to Montreal-based Balcorp to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos Mine in Asbestos, Que., is not the health and safety example we should be setting.

How’s this for a stark contrast? Sitting next to the daily newspapers on my desk with headlines of Quebec’s investment in asbestos is marketing material for Canada’s Safest Employers awards. The annual awards, handed out in September by Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine (, recognize employers with exceptional health and safety records and programs.

A safe workplace is a right, not a privilege. While we haven’t perfected the art of prevention, and everyone agrees one death or injury is too many, everybody — including employers, employees and government — is trying to ensure workers make it home safe.