Asbestos Awareness

SADAO is the Saskatchewan Asbestos DiseaseAwareness Organization. It is a non-profit based in Saskatoon thatwas started by Howard Willems, a PSAC member, after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He had been involved with the Ban AsbestosCommittee through the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour[ SFL ]. It was an organization by both Howard andBob Sass, who is a respected academic who has made asbestos awareness his life’s work. So the two of them created SADAO. So together they created this organizationwith the goal of creating awareness among parties in Saskatchewan. Hopefully, with a broader remit of leading national, to help create awareness of asbestos relevant infections, the risks of handling asbestos. As well as, they had a vision of creatinga registry. This registry would actually have a list ofall the public constructs in the province of Saskatchewan and hopefully have a nationalregistry listing all the federally and provincially operated buildings that are in asbestos. And not only a list of the buildings thathad it, but also a detailed description of where the asbestos is located, the conditionof the encapsulation, and a regular monitoring program, as well.I got involved in SADAO because Howard wasone of our friend. The labour move in Saskatchewan had alwaysbeen aware of asbestos, particularly because of Bob Sass and his wreak around asbestos. He had and he continues to have a very strongconnection with labour in Saskatchewan, including he used to run the Labour Studies programat the University of Saskatchewan. Any labour partisan in Saskatchewan knew whoBob was and was aware of the asbestos issue. So once Howard was diagnosed, even thoughhe was going through treatments, there was a desire to do things better and make achange.I conceive when Howard joined with Bob, I thinkhe was able to lend a little more insight into first entrust knowledge of what it is forsomeone to be exposed to asbestos and what it means to have this affect your life. I think it wreaked everything residence and broughta focus of the organization as far as they don’t want to ban asbestos, which was theprevious purpose, the new purpose was to create awareness. To protect the public was the main focus. When Howard was diagnosed, he did a lot ofresearch. His idea, because he was a health and safetyactivist with his consolidation, and terribly involved in a lot of social justice issues, insteadof worrying about his therapy, he wanted to know what could be done so no one elsehad to go through this.And through the research and working withBob, the one thing that we decided, that he decided, was that a registry of public buildingsthat contained asbestos was critical. That Canadians had a right to know, if theywere going into a building, if there was asbestos in the building and likewise what the conditionof it was. So in between a variety of treatments—-surgeryand chemo and radiation—-Howard started to use all of his sciences as a union activistto lobby municipal, provincial and federal government. There were notes and meets, and he managedto get the ear specific of the provincial government[ Official] Opposition in Saskatchewan, the NDP.It started with Cam Broten, who is currentlythe leader of NDP in Saskatchewan. He was health critic at the time. He generated a private member’s greenback to thefloor of the legislature with a great deal of consultation with Howard. They worked on it together as far as whatthe bill should look like, what it should include. Myself, Howard’s stepson and his sister, wewere in the legislature when that Bill was introduced, Bill 604 and the provincial governmentwas not interested. The authority is not in favour of it. They said it was going to cost too much coin. It really wasn’t attainable with information systems theyhad. Their response was, “Well, we’ll do it voluntary. It doesn’t have to be mandatory.” We didn’t give up. We mostly took all of our statements asan organization and we counter bickered all that is they brought up. It derived; it was going to be just the SaskatchewanAsbestos Disease Awareness Organization[ SADAO ], along with the Public Service Alliance ofCanada[ PSAC ], more specifically I guess the Prairie Region. We were able to be put into contact with theCanadian Cancer Society and the[ Lung Association of Saskatchewan ]. I guess the Canadian Cancer Society firstheard about the asbestos advocacy that was going on in the province back in the come. A PSAC member asked a question of the LabourMinister at the time at an SFL Convention. So that was our first sort of word of it. We has furthermore recognized Howard Willems, a PSAC member, on the[ CBC] National telling his storey of mesothelioma. But we hadn’t quite got involved at that pointand weren’t sure this is right how to get involved. And then we followed Howard’s tale and, regretfully, he passed away from his cancer. Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, anNDP member here in Saskatchewan initiated a private member’s legislation to adopt an asbestosregistry in Saskatchewan.And I received information that on the report and so I immediatelycalled Cam Broten, the author of that Bill, and said, “How do we get in touch with thepeople who are behind this? ” It was at that point that Cam mentioned, PSAC, and Howard’s family, and SADAO. And we just got a meeting together and gotthe missile wheeling. Canadian Cancer Society, Saskatchewan Divisionand[ Lung Association of Saskatchewan] is a desire to working together with SADAOand PSAC on getting this issue moved forward. As the union we facilitated the discussion, but all three non-profits toiled really closely together. They established such relationships with governmentand opposition. Everybody set some dollars into it and therewas a public safarus and I think that was part of what was critical. It wasn’t seen as a union matter, it wasn’tseen as one person’s campaign. It now became an issue that citizens everywherecould are addressed to. We felt very comfortable that this was a story; this was an issue around protecting proletarians health.Howard Willems was part of PSAC; he was aworker whose live culminated as a result of asbestos he was exposed to on the job. PSAC or any other confederations they are there toprotect their[ representatives] and our working for me at the Canadian Cancer Society is to preventcancer. So it formed perfect gumption to work with anyorganizations who attended about this question and who are willing to take it on. I don’t know if this was a matter of the governmentwas starting to see some examples of parties being exposed. They were ascertaining a shift. Radicals like first responders, the[ SaskatchewanAssociation of Fire Chiefs ], unitings throughout the province were coming forward and callingon the government to establish a mandatory registry. This is the first time ever in Saskatchewanhistory that a private member’s legislation extended. And it was unanimous. The opposition stood up and made a motionto add a line to Bill 604 recognizing that Bill as “Howard’s Law”. All of a sudden it was like we look back eachother and croaked, “It’s done! ” I retain turning to Brenda, Howard’s partner, and I said, “It’s done! ” This private member’s bill transfer was thefirst time that a private member’s bill has passed in Saskatchewan.So it genuinely conveys something to have Howard’sname attached to it ..

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