Canadian Unions Take a Stand Against Cancer

Feb. 24, 2005
The Canadian Labour Congress has released a new information kit that helps workers learn about exposure to cancer-causing materials on the job and helps to build a campaign to make their workplace and their communities safer.

"Government awareness programs and cancer research devote the lion's share of their resources on detection and treatment, preventing people from dying of cancer rather than preventing them from getting it in the first place. Our tools are all about prevention and reducing the risk of getting cancer at all," said Canadian Labour Congress Executive Vice President Marie Clarke Walker.

"Preventing Cancer: A Campaign for Workers" is an 82-page manual that helps workers learn about workplace exposure to cancer-causing materials and ways to prevent the loss and suffering caused when cancer strikes. It provides a step-by-step plan to help workers build their own workplace campaign to reduce the risk of exposure to carcinogens. The manual is available at

As more and more workers realize the link between cancer and their exposure to carcinogens at work, unions are helping them get organized to both assess and reduce the risk. Union-organized cancer prevention campaigns have already produced real changes in workplaces across the country through improved ventilation in plants and replacement of harmful petroleum-based grease with vegetable-oil-based lubricants. In addition water-based paints have replaced oil-based paints and safer cleaning products are being used.

"Unions make a difference in people's lives. Helping workers organize to reduce their chances of getting cancer is one of the many ways that difference is made," Walker said.

The Canadian Labour Congress represents 3 million Canadian workers.

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