Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I appreciate this opportunity to follow up.
I'm going to ask a question with regard to asbestos, and then how it relates to our industry. Asbestos is actually estimated to kill around 2,000 people per year, and the exposure actually has been increasing: lung cancers, death. In fact, some of my family members...and one of them in particular was in a plant in Windsor where asbestos was the leading cause of death and illness.
It's on the rise. In 1992 there was 276 recorded cases related to asbestos, and 25 years later, they're up to 560. Despite the fact that Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and South Africa have banned asbestos, Canada still has asbestos not only in many of the products that we have here, but also we allow the importation.
A specific example where it relates to industry is the fact that we bring in, say, brake pads from other countries. It's against the law, for example, for Canadian manufacturers.... I worked on the right to repair bill. That was the automotive aftermarket where there was a.... I wanted legislation, but we got actually an agreement with the industry and the government at the time for that. Some Canadian companies could actually import asbestos brake pads for the use and sale. Meanwhile, those Canadian retailers in other small shops are only trying to do the right thing, and have to compete against that.
I know the Canadian Labour Congress is working on this issue as well, and I would be remiss if I didn't note Pat Martin's work on this, my former colleague here. I can't use his terminology the way that he used to, by any means, and I miss it on a regular basis, but he's not here for that.
I know the CLC is looking at a comprehensive ban. I know the government has announced that no new public buildings will have that, but also a national registry of our public buildings.... I think also what's most important for the industry in terms of fair competition is that we actually ban asbestos products coming into Canada so those that want to do the right thing don't have unfair competition.
I'll conclude with this and leave it open to everyone.
I worked really hard when I first got here with the government of the day. I think it was Minister Goodale who made the decision at the end of day. It used to be that you could have business fines and penalties as a business-related expenses and get up to 50% back at tax time for that. It actually held up the industry committee for a long time until we actually got that finished. For example, one case was a company with drug-marketing problems with a $40-million fine and they got $11 million at tax time. So we ended that.
Is there a way we can work toward, sooner rather than later, banning asbestos imports so that non-asbestos products can compete fairly?