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 developed SADAO. So together they created this organizationwith the goal of creating awareness among parties in Saskatchewan. Hopefully, with a broader remit of travelling national, to help create awareness of asbestos referred sickness, the risks of treatment asbestos. As well as, they had a vision of creatinga registry. This registry would actually have a list ofall the public buildings 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 schedule 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 gesture in Saskatchewan had alwaysbeen aware of asbestos, particularly because of Bob Sass and his piece 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 edition. So formerly Howard was diagnosed, even thoughhe was going through treatments, there was a desire to determine things better and make achange. I fantasize when Howard joined with Bob, I thinkhe was able to give a little more insight into first paw ordeal 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 home and broughta focus of the organization as far as they don’t want to ban asbestos, which was theprevious purpose, the new goal 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 league, and extremely involved in a lot of social justice issues, insteadof am concerned about his treatment, 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 build, 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 symbols and engagements, and he managedto get the ear exclusively 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 state critic at the time. He fetched a private member’s bill 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 did not support it. They said it was going to cost too much fund. It time wasn’t feasible 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 made all of our contentions asan organization and we counter reasoned everything that they brought up. It advanced; it was going to be only the SaskatchewanAsbestos Disease Awareness Organization[ SADAO ], along with the Public Service Alliance ofCanada[ PSAC ], more specifically I suspects the Three prairie provinces. 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 sink. 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 interpreted Howard Willems, a PSAC member, on the[ CBC] National telling his floor of mesothelioma. But we hadn’t fairly got involved at that pointand weren’t quite sure how to directly involved. And then we followed Howard’s narration 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 greenback to adopt an asbestosregistry in Saskatchewan. And I heard that on the information 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 chunk flattening. Canadian Cancer Society, Saskatchewan Divisionand[ Lung Association of Saskatchewan] were interested in working together with SADAOand PSAC on getting this issue moved forward. As the union we facilitated its consideration of the question, but all three non-profits acted really closely together. They supported a relationship with governmentand opposition.Everybody position 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 question, 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 works state. Howard Willems comes within the framework of PSAC; he was aworker whose life-time terminated as a result of asbestos he was exposed to on the job. PSAC or any other consolidations they are there toprotect their[ representatives] and our working for me at the Canadian Cancer Society is to preventcancer. So it performed excellent gumption 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 people being exposed. They were recognizing a push. Groups like first responders, the[ SaskatchewanAssociation of Fire Chiefs ], leagues 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 elapsed. 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 looked at eachother and get, “It’s done! ” I recollect turning to Brenda, Howard’s spouse, and I said, “It’s done! ” This private member’s bill elapse was thefirst time that a private member’s invoice has passed in Saskatchewan. So it genuinely intends something to have Howard’sname attached to it ..

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