House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, my usual response to anyone suggesting that there could be improvements to a bill is to say that my party and I will always consider any amendments that would be brought forward, and would evaluate them as to whether or not they would improve the bill.

We are an open party. We know we are in a minority Parliament and I believe it requires the cooperation of all four parties in the House to listen to each other to ensure that every piece of legislation is the very best piece of legislation we can possibly come up with. If his party is wishing to offer amendments at report stage, we will certainly consider them.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, without a doubt, our societies' greatest strength, the driving force behind our economies and the factor that sets them apart, is the human capital we can rely on. This driving force is varied, dynamic and rich. We have a wealth of people whose abilities are maximized by the favourable environment we can foster and even shape thanks to the concerted contributions of individuals. When I think of the human capital we have here, I see business leaders who are tuned into small shifts and global trends and who adapt their strategies and develop the kind of clear vision that enables them to seize opportunities and use those opportunities to advance all of our communities. I think of researchers who apply their advanced knowledge to their ongoing search for better and newer ideas, thus enabling all of our fellow humans to live a better life and to dream of always living a better life. I remember whose who, every morning, leave their homes to do a job that we ask them to dedicate themselves to, and make the most of their skills to do better. These people, who do their very best every day, are the ones who enable us, as a community, to aspire to a better life.

That is why I am so pleased to rise in this House to address the Senate's Bill S-2, an Act to amend the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act. Needless to say, my party supports the principle underlying this bill because its reason for being is quality of life. Indeed, the Bloc Québécois believes that when it comes to hazardous materials, it is vital to keep in mind worker safety and to base all decisions on that imperative.

Mr. Speaker, you are probably not surprised to hear me say that. The members of the Bloc Québécois feel a profound desire to respect, listen to and protect workers, and we have intervened on many occasions in this House, as well as in the various ridings in Quebec and across Canada, to ensure that the rights of workers are respected.

Thus, for the benefit of my colleagues and our viewers, I would like to remind the House about a number of bills we have brought forward and defended in recent years, always driven by this desire to serve our fellow citizens and defend their interests.

First of all, I would like to mention Bill C-257, to ban the use of replacement workers in businesses under federal jurisdiction. Had it not been for the mysterious flip-flop by the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, this bill would have passed the report stage by now.

Members may recall that, when the Liberal Party leadership race was in full swing, my colleagues, the hon. member for Gatineau and the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, had obtained the consent of a majority of the members of this House, thus allowing the bill to pass second reading and be referred to committee. As demonstrated by this favourable vote at second reading, a majority of my colleagues are in favour of the underlying principle of this bill. Therefore, I am thoroughly convinced that we will see the fruits of this important contribution from Bloc Québécois in the very near future. Perseverance and hard work are our trademark, as you know.

Additionally, looking at the Order Paper, we see a bill concerning preventive withdrawal, the purpose of which is to provide pregnant women in Quebec who work in companies under federal jurisdiction with the same benefits of preventive withdrawal as other working women in Quebec. This is a matter of fairness.

The purpose of this bill is to allow these workers to make better choices for their families by having the same options similar workers already have.

There is also Bill C-269 to improve the employment insurance system. It is disgusting that the Government of Canada—whether Liberal or Conservative, it makes no difference—is as stingy as it is when it comes to this insurance program. The government does not inject anything into this program, not a dollar, not one red cent, but it collects surpluses from the contributions paid by the employers, who earn profits on their investment, and by the employees, who earn salaries from their hard work.

I would also quickly like to talk about how the Bloc Québécois has been fighting on behalf of workers aged 55, 60, or 63, who are victims of the mass layoffs that have been plaguing Quebec for the past few years, in order that these workers can reach retirement with dignity.

Including an income support program for older workers in the last throne speech, following pressure from my colleagues and me, is the start of recognizing that these workers deserve respect and, I would hope, the beginning of the end of a crazy idea held by certain Conservative ministers. According to them, it is easy for a 56-year-old worker with very little education who has worked with his hands his whole life, to go back to school to receive training in order to work in another area of activity until he is 65. Providing one-size-fits-all training is a big mistake, not to mention disrespectful of the people who have contributed to building our society.

Thus, we believe, since we always put our fellow citizens at the centre of our thoughts, our actions and our decision making, that it is essential to use the best possible framework for managing the use of hazardous materials. It seems redundant to say so, since it is so obvious that handling hazardous materials should be done following the most specific, rigorous and comprehensive parameters, both in their wording and application. Nonetheless, I think it is important to provide a few clarifications on how hazardous materials are currently managed in Canada.

The use of hazardous materials is governed by the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). WHMIS is a combination of laws, regulations and procedures to protect workers by warning them about illnesses and injuries that could result from using hazardous chemical products in the workplace.

Quebec, the federal, provincial and territorial governments work together to implement the system.

The Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission (HMIRC) states that:

Under WHMIS, manufacturers and distributors of controlled (hazardous) products must provide information on the health and safety risks associated with their products, together with instructions for safe handling, storage, transportation, disposal and first-aid treatment. This information is conveyed by the product’s mandatory Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and label—

Each product's material safety data sheet must contain certain elements: it must list all hazardous ingredients in the product, its toxicological properties, as well as any safety precautions to be taken when the product is used. The material safety data sheet must also indicate first-aid treatment required in case of exposure to the product.

If any information required for the material safety data sheet deals with trade secrets, and revealing them would have serious consequences, there is a mechanism in place to determine the relevance of not posting all the information, and also to protect the rights of workers.

That mechanism is the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.

Having said that, in reference to Bill S-2, it seems clear to us that the amendments to the act have been requested by the main stakeholders and, as a result, they should be adopted. These amendments have been unanimously endorsed by the members of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, also known as HMIRC. The commission includes representatives of workers, suppliers, employers, and the federal, provincial and territorial governments; in other words, all the parties who are affected by this legislative measure.

Since I have started to speak about HMIRC, I will very briefly describe the commission before dealing with the substance of the bill.

The Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission was established in 1987 under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act as part of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, also known as WHMIS.

HMIRC is an independent agency that is accountable to the Parliament of Canada, through the Minister of Health. Its mandate is “to help safeguard both workers and trade secrets in Canada’s chemical industry”. It evaluates request from companies to withhold publication of some substances in certain products in order to protect trade secrets.

As a result, when a company wishes to obtain an exemption from the general obligation to disclose because it wishes to safeguard a trade secret—that might be the nature or the concentration of a harmful ingredient in a product that it manufactures—it must submit a request for exemption to HMIRC. The request is recorded by HMIRC, which determines whether the request for exemption is appropriate.

The mandate of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission is also to evaluate material safety data sheets and labels on hazardous materials to ensure compliance with the act.

As part of its mandate, in the fall of 2002, the council of governors of the commission formally and unanimously recommended to the then minister of health the amendments that are the subject of Bill S-2. These amendments are intended to correct shortcomings in three areas: the complexity of information of a commercial nature, the lack of a voluntary procedure for modification of a material safety data sheet, and finally, a lack of flexibility in the exchange of information between the commission and an independent board in an appeal process.

In seeking to improve the current process, Bill S-2 thus aims to achieve three distinct objectives.

First, it allows companies seeking an exemption from the general rules concerning the listing of hazardous ingredients to make a declaration that information in respect of which an exemption is claimed is confidential business information and that information substantiating the claim is available and will be provided on request, instead of de facto providing all the information.

Second, it allows the companies to give a voluntary undertaking to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission to make changes to a material safety data sheet or label listing hazardous ingredients to bring it into compliance with the Hazardous Products Act or the Canada Labour Code.

Finally, it allows the limited participation of the commission before an appeal board.

To address these three shortcomings identified by the HMIRC, which are—it might be a good idea to mention them again—the complexity of economic information, the absence of a voluntary data sheet correction process, and the lack of flexibility in the exchange of information between the commission and the independent boards during the appeal process, it is proposed to make three changes to the current legislation.

First, clauses 1, 2 and 8 of the bill change the requirements under subsection 11(4) of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, to specify that, in their claims for exemption, companies do not have to provide all the documentation previously required. The purpose of this change is to reduce the complexity of the applications, especially when the information does not help the HMIRC make a decision on the economic considerations involved.

At present, companies seeking an exemption have to submit detailed documentation on the steps they have taken to protect confidentiality with respect to the ingredients used in their products and on the potential financial implications of disclosure.

In her testimony given to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on May 17, 2006, Sharon Watts, vice-president of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, indicated when HMIRC would require full documentation:

The commission will require full documentation to support a claim for exemption from disclosure when an affected party challenges a claim or when a claim is selected through a verification scheme that we will set up to discourage false or frivolous claims.

Clauses 3 and 4 of the bill amend articles 16 and 17 of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act in order to establish a new mechanism for having companies voluntarily amend the material safety data sheet. With this new mechanism, when a company requests an exemption, a screening officer may “send an undertaking to the claimant setting out the measures that are required to be taken for the purpose of compliance” with those provisions governing dangerous goods contained in the Hazardous Products Act and the Canada Labour Code.

The purpose of this amendment is twofold: to ensure that changes to material safety data sheets and labels are made more quickly and to ensure that companies acting in good faith will not be issued an order by HMIRC, as this can imply that they are reluctant to fulfill their responsibilities.

In comparison, current legislation requires the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission to issue a formal order for compliance, even if the company that requests an exemption is ready to respect its obligations and to make the necessary changes after being served notice.

The process, under the present legislation, is time consuming and strict. Thus, when a breach is reported, an order is sent to the company that requested the exemption.

I see I only have one minute left, so I will conclude by saying that this order must be published in the Canada Gazette and is not enforceable until 75 days after publication. There are further delays to allow the company to appeal the order, or to comply with the order and produce a new data sheet.

According to members of the HMIRC, the new procedure introduced by Bill S-2 would speed up the amendment process considerably, but existing rules would still allow orders to be issued to uncooperative companies in cases of non-compliance with the rules and in the absence of a final undertaking.

If I may, I would like to skip over the third proposed amendment, and simply point out that, for all the reasons previously outlined, my colleagues of the Bloc Québécois and I support the principle of Bill S-2.

We urge the other members of this House to do the same, in the interest of workers and—

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Oakville for questions or comments.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague for his remarks on Bill S-2 and assure him that we agree with him on several of his points, one of which was about the primary nature of the safety of every worker in Canada, and I believe that most if not all members of the House agree.

We also believe in the dignity of all work, which leads to his idea, stated rather well, that the efforts of all workers, no matter how high or low their station, pool together in a richness that improves the quality of life for all.

I will disagree with his interpretation of the history of Bill C-257, though. He knows very well that most members in the House were in favour of the principle of the bill, but testimony at committee suggested that it was unworkable in the form it was in. In order to support the principle of the bill and get around the unworkability, the Liberal critic at committee presented a series of amendments. Unfortunately, those amendments were ruled out of order as being beyond the scope of the bill and therefore Liberal members had to vote against the bill when it came back to the House.

However, as proof of our commitment to the principle of Bill C-257, the Liberal member for Davenport tabled another bill the next day with the same principle, but with a more solid underpinning of detail that would make the bill workable, and therefore we would achieve the principle desired.

The member also said that on EI reform it makes no difference whether the government is Liberal or Conservative. I am not sure where he was last night, but just last evening we voted on a private member's bill put forward by the member for Acadie—Bathurst, an NDP member, and he could have seen the split in the House on that. The Liberals all voted in favour and the Conservatives voted against, so his rolling together of the two parties in his description was proven untrue only last night.

In his questions earlier in this debate, the member raised the possibility of amendments at report stage, and he asked me whether my party would consider them, but I did not hear any suggestions in his speech. At this time I would like to ask him if he is planning to present amendments at report stage. If so, would he like to describe one or two of them?

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague mistook me for my colleague from Alfred-Pellan, who asked a question about the amendments his party might want to put forward during the committee review.

I would just like to emphasize that in my speech, I said that the vote on second reading of Bill C-257 led me to believe that most of the members of this House agree with the principle of the bill, and that I welcome the idea of passing a bill to that effect. I believe that my colleague and I agree that we will soon see a private member's bill to abolish the use of replacement workers for employees and employers under federal jurisdiction. However, I do not agree at all with what my colleague said about improving the employment insurance regime.

Need I remind my Liberal colleague that it was the Liberal government that slashed this program so drastically and ruthlessly? The Liberals are the reason we are now forced to do whatever we can to improve the program. For many years now, the Bloc Québécois has been asking for the creation of an independent employment insurance fund that would enable employers and employees to manage their contributions to the program themselves.

I would like the member to say that she would support a bill to create an independent employment insurance fund. I am very eager to hear her say it. All of my Bloc Québécois colleagues are very eager for the Liberal Party of Canada to finally decide to hand over complete control of contributions to employers and employees in order to help workers who need help when they lose their jobs.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me, on behalf of the NDP caucus, to enter into the debate on Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act.

As always when a bill is introduced by the Senate, I feel obligated to point out that we object to bills that are introduced into this elected House of Commons from the other place, the unelected, undemocratic Senate. We believe that legislation dealing on behalf of the people of Canada should be put forward by the elected representatives of the people of Canada. However, having said that, we find the bill on our table today and we will do our due diligence and debate it as per the rules.

I am very interested in the subject of Bill S-2 and WHMIS, the workplace hazardous materials information system. I notice that my colleague from Surrey North, as a former minister of health for the province of British Columbia, is nodding her head. As well, my colleague from Vancouver Island North, coming from the labour movement, would appreciate the struggle that it was to introduce WHMIS legislation into the Canadian industrial workplace.

It was a long battle, the argument being quite simple: that workers have a right to know what they are being exposed to and they have the right to refuse unsafe work if they find, based on the information given to them, that they are not willing to put their personal health at risk in handling some of these products.

That is the fundamental premise and it was the groundwork that led to WHMIS as we know it. It was many more years before it became mandatory, before it became the law of the land that all workers have to be trained in the workplace hazardous materials information system and that all workplaces must have material safety data sheets listing as clearly as humanly possible in plain language exactly what chemicals or what combinations of chemicals the workplace may expose a worker to.

It was a hard-won battle. It ranks up there as one of the victories of the Canadian labour movement in Canadian industrial history. It is an issue dear to my heart. It is an issue that I am proud of. I am proud that the labour movement and the NDP played a role in putting it into effect in this country.

However, it is also something about which I have great concerns and some hesitation. In the context of doing research for this particular speech, I was shocked to learn that roughly 95% of all the material safety data sheets reviewed by the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission had been found to be non-compliant with the legislation. It was a random survey, but a scientific random survey.

The fact that 95% were non-compliant should cause us great concern in this era of greater awareness about chemical exposure and the accumulation of otherwise moderate amounts of chemicals in our systems. Chemical a may not in and of itself do us harm and chemical b may not in and of itself do us harm, but when those two chemicals are mixed together within our bodily organs, where they remain for many years, they can form chemical c, which may itself be a carcinogen or do us great grievous harm.

These shortcomings in the data sheets were not minor in terms of misspelling the names of a chemical or something. They were gross violations. They were missing either elements or products absolutely. As for the shortcomings in the data sheet system as we know it, and that very confidence we are trying to achieve that the best interests of workers are being addressed by WHMIS, perhaps we are not quite as excited about it today.

In my mind, one of the most obvious oversights in this country in terms of exposing workers to hazards comes from the toxic substances list, which was updated as of December 27, 2006. I do not think the substances are in any priority of hazards, but perhaps they are. Number six on that list is asbestos.

Asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known. We believe that Canada should hang its head in shame with its treatment of the asbestos industry and the way it fails to protect Canadians to the hazards of exposure to asbestos. Even greater is the way we are exposing third world countries and underdeveloped nations to this hazard. It is absolutely indefensible in many ways.

Not only has Canada not banned asbestos and not only are we allowed to use it in the most alarming ways, but Canada is still the second largest producer and exporter of asbestos in the world. We export 220,000 tonnes into underdeveloped nations, often third world countries, because none of the developed nations will buy it.

Developed nations are banning asbestos in all its forms. We cannot sell asbestos to the European Union, Japan and Australia any more because they will not have the stuff in their countries. Yet Canada keeps pushing it and dumping it into developing nations. It is spending millions of tax dollars subsidizing the industry and trying to prevent other countries from banning asbestos.

When France tried to ban it, Canada sent teams of lawyers to the WTO to file complaints that we would lose our opportunity to sell the product in France and it would be an unfair trade issue if France did the right thing to protect its citizens from this hazardous carcinogen, number six on our list of toxic carcinogens in the country. Fortunately for the people of France, Canada lost its appeal. France did ban asbestos, yet we continue to produce it and sell it.

When Bill S-2 was going through the various stages of debate beginning in the Senate, clearing the Senate and coming to the House of Commons, at that very same time of confluence, a real irony, the Government of Canada was passing new regulations under the same act, the hazardous materials act, which cited places it recommended asbestos may be used. This is the real irony. It was almost as if the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.

On the one hand, we have both Houses of Parliament engaged in writing legislation to protect workers from hazardous materials, such as number six on this list. On the other hand, they are passing new regulations not banning asbestos, number six on the list, but citing places where it is okay to be used. Guess what some of these places are? This was shocking to me, as a journeyman carpenter, as a tradesman.

One of the places asbestos can be used, and it is cited clearly in the new regulations, put into effect in November 11, 2006, is in drywall mud, drywall joint compound that every tradesman slathers on the wall between sheets of drywall. That mud has to be sanded. The sanding process makes the asbestos airborne. The workers in the field, even in commercial unionized jobs, wear no more than a paper mask, which does not stop the asbestos fibre. Because they are so microscopic, they take eight hours to drop from the ceiling to the floor.

This is stupidity. Every tradesman in the country knows we do not put asbestos in drywall mud. Why then does the Government of Canada pass new regulations that say it is okay to put asbestos in drywall mud? I think the Conservatives are trying to make a point. They are trying to say that asbestos is benign, not bad for us, yet on their list of toxic substances, it is number six.

Another place listed in the new regulations, where asbestos could be used, shocked me and motivated the NDP to take action. Recently, my colleague from Vancouver Island North and I had a press conference to illustrate how insane this was. It is okay to put asbestos in children's toys. Now that is smart. What kind of brainwave, bright light came up with that idea to put number six on the toxic carcinogens list of our toxic materials hazardous information system in children's toys?

I am almost speechless. A person would not have to be stupid to put asbestos in children's toys. A person would have to be fundamentally evil to put asbestos in children's toys. I cannot imagine anyone being that ignorant. However, the Conservatives are trying to be provocative. They are trying to stand up against the anti-asbestos lobby, the international global ban on asbestos, which has now succeeded in 40 developed nations. They are trying to say that asbestos is safe as long as people do not breathe it, eat it or be exposed to it.

We fought like crazy to get asbestos out of Crayola crayons. It took us 10 years. Finally, we managed to do that. It took us years to get the asbestos out of plasticine modelling clay. Finally, reason prevailed and we succeeded.

Now the Government of Canada, as of November 11, 2006, says that it is okay to put it in children's toys and learning products. I do not know what that means, school supplies maybe. There is this irrational, bizarre affinity that Canada has to asbestos.

We spend millions of dollars as globe-trotting propagandists for the asbestos industry. We hosted 140 conferences and seminars in 60 different countries, paid for by the federal government and our embassies, to invite other countries to buy more asbestos, to push more asbestos around the world.

I point this out to illustrate what a bizarre contradiction it seems to be for us to be debating today WHMIS, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, for the protection of workers. We are dumping asbestos all over the world, creating a legacy of health problems. It is like exporting a thousand Bhopals every year when this terribly legacy goes on.

Tomorrow I am going to the Drexel College of Medicine in Philadelphia to address a ban asbestos conference. Leading workplace safety and health doctors from around the world will be there. It is their third annual conference. Last year I went to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City to address a similar conference. The world wants to ban asbestos and Canada is playing an active role to block it.

Bill S-2 is talking about the Canadian legislation, WHMIS, the workplace hazardous information list. The international WHMIS list is called the Rotterdam convention.

Only a few months ago Canada sent another team of Department of Justice lawyers to Geneva, where COPS was meeting for the Rotterdam convention, the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. Once again, they were going to oppose that asbestos be listed on that Rotterdam convention list of hazardous materials. It only meets every two years, so every two years Canada trots out its Department of Justice lawyers who rush to the COPS Rotterdam convention meeting to ensure that asbestos is not on the list of hazardous materials.

I do not know what goes on behind the scenes, but this time the chairman of the committee cited Canada for being rude in not only blocking the motion to list asbestos. The chair had not even finished introducing the subject. He was just about to ask for arguments why asbestos should be on the Rotterdam convention list, when the Canadian delegation interrupted him at the microphones on a point of order and said that it was unnecessary, that it could save time, that it vetoed it because it did not want asbestos on the list. All countries have a right to veto in this consensus exercise.

I wonder if Canadians realize that we are paying these industry propagandists, the Department of Justice lawyers, to act as apologists for the asbestos industry. The asbestos industry is the tobacco industry's evil twin. For 100 hears it has been relying on tainted research, lies and cover-up. This is the most reprehensible form of questionable wacky science to keep asbestos in the marketplace. The Government of Canada is playing an active role in this.

I used to work in the asbestos mines as a young man. I am particularly sensitive to this. They were lying to us about the health effects of asbestos then, just as they are lying to us about it today.

In the context of Bill S-2, in case you are concerned about me wondering off topic, Mr. Speaker, I think it is entirely relevant to speak about one of the greatest hazards, the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known.

A lot of people do not realize that more people die from asbestos than all other industrial causes combined, and we have not reached the peak of the bell curve. The peak production and use of asbestos was in the 1970s and 1980s. The incubation period is 20 to 40 years. We have not seen the peak. It is not just the leading industrial occupation death. It is that all the other causes combined do not add up to the number of asbestos related deaths.

The people of Quebec say that somehow Quebec asbestos is benign. The National Institute of Public Health in Quebec, not the Canadian government Institute of Public Health, just published a study. They are finally facing reality.

Let me put it this way. Quebec men have the fourth highest rate of mesothelioma in the world. Quebec women have the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world. The only type of asbestos they mine in Quebec is chrysotile. Chrysotile asbestos causes mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos.

Finally, we can put to rest this myth that Quebec asbestos is okay, it is all that other bad asbestos that is hurting people. Quebec asbestos kills, just like the asbestos at the mine I worked at or the mines in Newfoundland and Labrador.

All those mines closed because of natural market forces. We cannot give this stuff away any more because it kills people. We keep supporting the Chrysotile Institute with government funding. We spend millions, not only supporting the industry, not only pushing it into third world countries, but undermining other countries' efforts to protect themselves, such as at the Rotterdam Convention.

When South Korea wanted to put warning labels on Canadian asbestos, Canada intervened and stopped it. It would not let it do so, again, as a trade issue. Canada said that Korea could not put a warning label on bags of asbestos because it could not prove that it was bad for people. It is not even on the Rotterdam convention lists of prior informed consent. Rotterdam does not even say ban asbestos. All Rotterdam does is say that there has to be prior informed consent of the end user. In other words, we have to inform the end users that what we are selling them could kill them. They have to take precautions. They have to use some measures of protection.

I get very frustrated. When I go to Philadelphia tomorrow, I do not know what I will tell the people there because we have made no progress. When I spoke to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, I was hanging my head in shame for what the Government of Canada was doing. Since then, it has passed these new regulations which contemplate putting asbestos in children's toys. We are actually going backward.

I know why. There is a rat in the woodpile, I do not mind saying that. The current Minister of Natural Resources hired as his assistant deputy minister a man named Gary Nash. Guess where Gary Nash came from? He was the founder and first CEO of the Asbestos Institute. He is an apologist for the asbestos industry. He is filling the minister's head with a bunch of pro-asbestos propaganda that completely flies in the face of all the empirical evidence and scientific research which says asbestos kills.

This is the problem we have. Reason and logic are not driving this. Science is not driving this. What is driving this is some fear of offending what is left of this dying industry in the region of Quebec, which has the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world for women. This is the kind of thing that is driving this.

I take this opportunity to serve notice that we will not let this issue go. We intend to continue our fight. We have a motion on the books to ban asbestos in all its forms, calling on the government to increase its diagnostics and treatment abilities. As the world's leading exporter and producer of asbestos, surely we have an obligation to provide some of the remedies and some of the solutions as well. As everyone who has been exposed to or is dealing with mesothelioma in the country knows, they have to leave Canada to get treated effective for it. They all wind up in Michigan or California for advanced treatments.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems very knowledgeable, particularly about the issue of asbestos. In the bill before the House, Bill S-2, one of the amendments would speed up the process of getting health and safety information into the hands of workers to use the products.

I would like to ask the member, particularly in the area of asbestos or any others, whether or not he feels that this health and safety information is getting to the workers? Is he comfortable with how that health and safety information is determined, whether it is science-based, and whether there is anything that he feels should be improved in terms of the quality of the health and safety information getting to the workers in Canada?

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague is concerned with these issues and I have heard her speak very passionately on the issue of public health as a former minister herself, so I know her concern is genuine.

I did introduce my remarks by saying that WHMIS is one of the greatest achievements in industrial occupational health and safety in this country, and we are proud of it. However, I also point out that in a survey done by the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, roughly 95% of all the material safety data sheets reviewed by the commission had been found to be non-compliant with the legislation.

There are two great concerns that I have with the actual practical aspects of WHMIS. I am not sure workers are being trained, first of all. In the industry that I come from, very few non-union workplaces bother with the mandatory eight hour WHMIS information class. It is a cost factor. In the unionized shops we mandate it. We negotiate it. We make sure it happens.

The other thing I am not comfortable with is this. If the workers do know where to find material safety data sheets, will they in fact be adequate and will they list all of the materials that the employee should be aware of?

One of the positive elements in Bill S-2 will allow a claimant to give an undertaking to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission to bring a safety data sheet or a label into compliance with the provisions of the Hazardous Products Act. I would only ask, who is going to do that? How many rank and file blue collar workers on a job site are going to undertake to followthrough and ensure that some non-compliant data sheet goes through that detailed process?

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the issue of hazardous goods.

In my riding, people are very concerned about the storage of hazardous goods in railway cars. In Pointe Saint-Charles, in southwest Montreal, an entire area has a railway line running through it with a high volume of freight train traffic. Marshalling also occurs in this sector. Often trains stop in the marshalling yards for many hours and sometimes even for days.

A good number of these trains have tanker cars that store hazardous goods. Residents are very concerned because railway companies are no longer storing these tankers only at the far end of their marshalling yards. They are being seen increasingly at a standstill on tracks in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. Citizens in my riding are very worried by the fact that they probably contain toxic, explosive and other hazardous goods and that they are left for prolonged periods in the middle of residential neighbourhoods.

Does my colleague not think that this is a risk that we should deal with as quickly as possible?

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am sympathetic to the local situation that my colleague finds himself in. I note that recently there was a private member's initiative that dealt with labelling of train cars for more rapid identification by the first responders who may come across an incident where a rail car has derailed or in a case like my colleague pointed out where there are simply a number of vehicles that may have offensive materials stored in them.

The main thing we have to come back to is the point that I opened my arguments with. Workers and people generally have a right to know what they are exposed to. Conversely, or in the same vein, workers have a right to refuse unsafe work once they have been made aware that there is a hazard in their workplace.

In the case of the first responders who may have to deal with a rail incident, for years the International Association of Fire Fighters has lobbied Ottawa to make an information system more obvious and plain, so that a lay person or the first responder of any kind can be fully aware of what hazardous material is inside and how to handle that material in the event of an incident.

Champion Children
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, today Canada's Champion Children are here in Ottawa to share the message of their lives and to share with Canada that children's hospitals across the country are saving their lives and those of countless others.

I would especially like to welcome Braden Mole to Ottawa. Braden lives in my riding of Yellowhead and is the Champion Child for the Stollery Children's Hospital located in Edmonton.

Despite his numerous surgeries and hospital visits, Braden is a bright, intelligent and witty young man. He has a maturity that is beyond his years and is determined to raise funds for the hospital that helped save his life. To date, Braden has raised over $180,000.

I believe special things happen to special people for special reasons. He has captured the hearts of the people of Yellowhead and the country.

These children are all Canada's champions. We honour their courage, their strength and, above all, their determination.

Battle of Vimy Ridge
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, 90 years ago on April 9, 1917, during World War I at Vimy Ridge, 100,000 Canadian soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder for the first time in international battle under the Canadian flag and under a Canadian commander.

Canadians representing all of Canada's regions fought together and prevailed together. On that day, Canada truly became a nation; indeed, earning a signature on the Treaty of Versailles.

That Canadian victory was historic, given that over the previous three years 200,000 allied soldiers died in failed attempts to take the strategic Vimy Ridge.

By their extraordinary planning and execution, the Canadian corps took the Ridge but, sadly, nearly 4,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives and thousands more were wounded. This battle is now seen as a turning point in the first world war.

Today's military men and women serve us with tremendous honour and distinction. We are proud of them as we are of all our veterans of both war and peacetime.

As of 2003, April 9 became an official military heritage date in Canada after the enactment of my former Bill C-227. This coming Easter Monday, April 9--

Battle of Vimy Ridge
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Esprit-Saint Development Corporation
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec has refused to provide financial support to the Esprit-Saint development corporation for the establishment of a development centre for Opérations Dignité.

It is widely agreed that this centre will act as a catalyst allowing the municipality of Esprit-Saint and surrounding municipalities to foster and enhance stable economic development. This initiative of citizens of Haut-Pays-de-la-Neigette does not, however, appear to be meeting the economic development criteria put forward by that agency.

This is an innovative strategy which has the unconditional support of the public, the UQAR and the different jurisdictions in our great region. For the people of Haut-Pays, this approach reflects the vital force of their community.

The will of the people and the institutions has been clearly expressed, and the government should respect that will. However, the minister seems to continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to this style of development. Community builders ought to get the support they deserve from the government.

Summer Career Placement Program
Statements By Members

March 29th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, each summer in Surrey North hundreds of students hit the streets looking for a job. For these young people summer employment is key to fulfilling their goals.

Most families in Surrey North do not make a lot of money. Without a summer job, many students could not afford the cost of tuition.

The summer career placement program helped young people pay for their education, until last year when the Conservatives slashed $55 million from its budget.

Because of funding cuts and criteria restrictions, more students in my community will have a harder time paying their tuition. More families will have a harder time making ends meet, while helping their sons and daughters.

Without this program, many Surrey businesses may not be able to hire summer students at all. The summer career placement program was an important way of helping people make ends meet.

Once again, the Conservatives have failed Surrey North.

At a time of huge budget surpluses, we should be investing in people and communities, instead of giving away billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts.