Asbestos abatement at University of Toronto still an issue, say campus unions

TORONTO, April 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On 27 March 2019, the Panel to Review the Asbestos Management Program at the University of Toronto released its Asbestos Panel Review Report and its response from senior administrators at the University of Toronto, both of which were expected to be released in Fall 2018. This Panel was set up after findings that best practices for asbestos abatement has not been followed during renovations at the University’s Medical Sciences Building in December 2016-March 2017. The full report, along with the University of Toronto’s response, is available here:

Canadian Union of Public Employees (C.U.P.E.) Local 3902 has had concerns about the Panel since its inception. The Panel’s terms of reference limited it to a broad overview of the University’s Asbestos Management Program without inquiring into the incidents at the Medical Sciences Building in any detail. The Panel’s engagement with worker and student stakeholders has been exceptionally limited; C.U.P.E. 3902 was allowed only 40 minutes to present its concerns to the Panel and was given very short notice to prepare its comments. In addition, The University's current abatement procedures ignore best practices worldwide and instead focus on legislative minimum. Overall, neither the final report, nor the response released by the University of Toronto, adequately addresses the concerns raised by unions, faculty, and student organizations regarding the health concerns of workers and students in the Medical Sciences Building or the processes and practices of asbestos abatement on University of Toronto campuses.

C.U.P.E. 3902, the University of Toronto Faculty Association (U.T.F.A.), United Steelworkers 1998 (U.S.W.) and other unions and organizations on campus are preparing a media scrum at The University of Toronto’s St. George Campus. It will take place on April 18th, from 11am-12pm, in the Committees Room of Hart House. Speakers will include Jess Taylor, Chair of C.U.P.E 3902, a representative from U.S.W. 1998, and Terezia Zoric, Vice-President of U.T.F.A. This media scrum will communicate our shared concerns about the Panel’s findings and design and urge the University to take more serious measures to improve its Asbestos Management Program.


Jess Taylor
Chair, CUPE 3902

Hamish Russell
Internal Liaison Officer, CUPE 3902

Tiffany Balducci
CUPE 3902 Staff