Saskatchewan makes history with Howard’s Law

MLAs on both sides of the aisle have voted unanimously to pass a groundbreaking asbestos registry law.

Howard’s Law was introduced by NDP Leader Cam Broten in the fall. It will create a mandatory registry of public buildings that contain asbestos and require that list to be available online – the first system of its kind in Canada.

“Passing Howard’s Law means that working people and families will have more information when making decisions about their health,” said Broten. “Whether you’re choosing a seniors care home for grandma or getting ready to take on a construction contract, you deserve to know if there’s asbestos in that building, and whether it’s safely contained and recently inspected.”

The bill was renamed Howard’s Law by mutual agreement in a bipartisan committee on Wednesday evening. Originally named the Asbestos Right-to-Know Amendment Act, Broten requested the name change in reference to Howard Willems, who contracted mesothelioma by being exposed to asbestos as a public building inspector. Willems worked with Broten to bring forward the proposed law, but died from the disease last fall shortly after the bill was introduced in the Legislature.

“I was honoured to work with Howard and the many who have carried on his work,” said Broten. “He used the last months of his life to give voice to past and future victims, and to make our Legislature realize that information is a powerful tool when it comes to protecting health and safety.”

Broten said that the bipartisan cooperation shown in the latter stages of Howard’s Law is also a model for how he believes Saskatchewan people want politics to work. After initially rejecting Broten’s proposal for Howard’s Law, government MLAs supported the work.

“I appreciate the government’s cooperation in passing Howard’s Law,” said Broten. “I believe politicians should support good ideas, wherever they come from. The agreement on Howard’s Law shows that working together and putting common sense and people ahead of politics accomplishes more.”

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For further information, please contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus office