This article examines Canada’s stated objective of banning asbestos use by 2018. It goes on to explore some of the issues and outcomes surrounding this decision.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, health, man in society

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What is the concern about asbestos?
  • Why did it take so long to ban it?
  • What are the implications of this ban?

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article, Internet access

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

For years there have been pleas from various health organizations and environmental groups to ban the production and use of asbestos. The previous Conservative government led by Stephen Harper downplayed the severity of the issue and refused to take such action despite 50 other countries doing so. It also refused to endorse listing asbestos as a hazardous material. The current change in position by the Liberal government is a move welcomed by many, as asbestos remains the leading cause of workplace death in Canada. This lesson will have the students examine the impact that asbestos has and the government’s intention to ban it. The lesson also will require them to consider why it took so long for Canada to adopt this position and to discuss the role that government should play in addressing workplace hazards.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by informing the class that the Federal Liberal government has stated its intention to ban asbestos use by 2018.
  • Ask them for their reactions to that decision.
  • Once they have responded, provide them with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Get their reactions to what they have just read.
  • Having done this, divide the class into six groups and assign one of the following tasks to each group:
    1. Identify some of the places that asbestos-containing materials are currently found in our society.
    2. What types of asbestos-containing materials are still being imported into Canada?
    3. What impacts will the banning of asbestos have on Canada?
    4. Why did it take so long for Canada to adopt this ban?
    5. Does the proposal concerning the banning of asbestos go far enough?
    6. What role should government play in overseeing the production, importation and use of hazardous materials?
  • Allow the groups time to complete their task.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each group present their findings and respond to any questions from the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will:

  • Understand the threat posed by asbestos
  • Be able to outline the essential parts of the proposed ban on asbestos
  • Explain why it took so long for Canada to adopt this ban.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once the groups have presented their reports, conduct a plenary session during which the students can discuss the importance of such a ban and the need for governments to be vigilant in protecting the health of their citizens and the global community.