Apr 18, 2011

Canadian Cancer Society ‘disappointed’ with Quebec government

Asbestos mine could re-open

The Canadian Cancer Society is “deeply disappointed” in the Quebec government’s conditional support for a project that could lead to the re-opening of a mine in Asbestos, Que.

The society is responding to an announcement last week by Quebec Economic Development Minister Clement Gignac.

"From a public health point of view, the Quebec Government has made the wrong decision as all forms of asbestos cause cancer," said Paul Lapierre, vice-president of cancer control and public affairs at the Canadian Cancer Society. "We strongly urge Minister Gignac to re-consider his decision and to withdraw this support."

The Quebec government has given its agreement in principle to the reopening of the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine, according to media reports.

The offer is conditional on a consortium of investors lining up $25 million in financing by July 1. The consortium of Balcorp and partners is waiting for the province to announce if it will guarantee a $58-million loan guarantee to expand Jeffrey Mine operations, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Minister Gignac said his announcement affirms the Quebec government will continue to support the chrysotile asbestos industry, according to media reports.

The Cancer Sociey is urging Premier Jean Charest to not approve the $58-million loan guarantee.

"This decision directly conflicts with global cancer control. The epidemic of asbestos-related cancers, both in Canada and around the world, will continue to spread," said Lapierre.

Worldwide about 107,000 people die annually from disease related to occupational exposure to asbestos, according to the society.

The organization has been lobbying the federal government to take more action against asbestos and has expressed its concern about the government’s continued support of the asbestos industry in Canada. The Canadian Cancer Society believes all efforts must be made to eliminate exposure to asbestos and to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

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