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 appointed SADAO. So together they created this organizationwith the goal of creating awareness among beings in Saskatchewan. Hopefully, with a broader scope of get national, to help create awareness of asbestos related ailments, 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 structures in the provinces and territories of Saskatchewan and hopefully have a nationalregistry listing all the federally and provincially controlled builds that contain asbestos.And not just a directory of the buildings thathad it, but too 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 campaign in Saskatchewan had alwaysbeen aware of asbestos, particularly because of Bob Sass and his handiwork 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 organizer in Saskatchewan knew whoBob was and was aware of the asbestos issue.So formerly Howard was diagnosed, even thoughhe was going through treatments, there was a desire to utter things better and make achange. I recall when Howard participated with Bob, I thinkhe was able to lend a little more insight into first mitt suffer of what it is forsomeone to be exposed to asbestos and what it means to have this affect your life. I think it brought everything dwelling and broughta focus of the organization as far as they don’t want to ban asbestos, which was theprevious point, 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 association, and awfully involved in a lot of social justice issues, insteadof worrying about his care, 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 structure, 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 skills as a union activistto lobby municipal, provincial and federal government.There were characters and congregates, and he managedto get the ear specifically 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 produced a private member’s statute to thefloor of the legislature with a lot 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 government is not in favour of it. They said it was going to cost too much money.It precisely wasn’t workable with the system theyhad. Their response was, “Well, we’ll do it voluntary. It doesn’t have to be mandatory.” We didn’t give up. We mostly made all of our contentions asan organization and we counter indicated all that is they brought up. It derived; it was going to be just the SaskatchewanAsbestos Disease Awareness Organization[ SADAO ], together with the Public Service Alliance ofCanada[ PSAC ], more specifically I suspects 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 fall.A PSAC member questioned 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 seen Howard Willems, a PSAC member, on the[ CBC] National telling his tale of mesothelioma. But we hadn’t quite got involved at that pointand weren’t quite sure how to get involved. And then we followed Howard’s fib and, regretfully, he passed away from his cancer. Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, anNDP member here in Saskatchewan established a private member’s statement to adopt an asbestosregistry in Saskatchewan.And I heard that on the bulletin 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 clod going. 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 promoted its consideration of the question, but all three non-profits made really closely together. They supported such relationships with governmentand opposition. Everybody gave some dollars into it and therewas a public campaign and I think that was part of what was critical.It wasn’t seen as a union issue, it wasn’tseen as one person’s campaign. It now became an issue that citizens everywherecould relate to. We felt very comfortable that this was a story; this was an issue around protecting employees state. Howard Willems comes within the framework of PSAC; he was aworker whose live intention as a result of asbestos he was exposed to on the job.PSAC or any other associations they are there toprotect their[ members] and our working for me at the Canadian Cancer Society is to preventcancer. So it constituted perfect sense to work with anyorganizations who attended about this issue 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 realizing a movement.Groups like first responders, the[ SaskatchewanAssociation of Fire Chiefs ], consolidations 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 statute overtaken. And it was unanimous. The foe 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 get, “It’s done! ” I recollect turning to Brenda, Howard’s bride, and I said, “It’s done! ” This private member’s bill move was thefirst time that a private member’s statement has passed in Saskatchewan. So it really conveys something to have Howard’sname attached to it ..

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