Asbestos and efha claims
Municipalities file claims against the crown based on liability for environmental damages caused by Efha, a federal Crown corporation. In the 1980s, the Canadian government reorganized several departments responsible for managing environmental cleanup activities across Canada into one agency known as Efha.
At that time, Efha was responsible for cleaning up sites contaminated by the now-defunct Crown corporation of Canada Development Corporation. Between 1923 and 1991, Cdc had invested in various industries that generated pollutant waste or hazardous substances. The assets of Cdc were sold to private firms after 1991, and Efha became responsible for remediating any environmental damage at these sites that were leftover from the Cdc years.
Many of Cdc’s investments were in asbestos manufacturing and its by-products, including vinyl asbestos and chrysotile asbestos. These products were commonly used in construction materials (asbestos cement roof sheets), vehicle brakes, floor coverings, gaskets, fireproofing panels, and fireproofing spray, and in all types of industrial equipment.
The hazardous properties of asbestos have been known for centuries, but it was not until the 1930s that its health risks began to be accepted by the scientific community. By the late 1960s, asbestos was believed to be the cause of a variety of respiratory illnesses including asbestosis and lung cancer.
Promotion of Asbestos by Canadian Government
Until the early 1980s, Canada did little to protect its people from asbestos and its harmful by-products; indeed, many government publications continued to promote its use, even though it was known to be an extremely hazardous material that would cause disease in a significant number of people.
Asbestos Production Ban
Asbestos production and importation of asbestos products were banned in Canada in the mid-1980s, but products manufactured before then remain in widespread use. It is estimated that over half of all asbestos products imported into Canada since 1900 are still in use today.
The potential health risks posed by asbestos became clear after a number of epidemiological studies were conducted beginning in the 1960s. These studies showed an increased risk of asbestos-related diseases in people who had been exposed to the substance. The risk was greater the longer the exposure, and also increased for those who inhaled the asbestos fibers rather than touching them.
Health Canada now confirms that all forms of asbestos cause an increased risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma (a tumor affecting the lining of the pleural or peritoneal cavities), and other cancers. The only exception is chrysotile asbestos, which causes only asbestosis (an occupational lung disease) but no increased risk of mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Awareness of Asbestos Hazards
Asbestos-related diseases are currently receiving an increased amount of attention from researchers across Canada, the United States, and Europe. As a result of these research efforts, it is now clear that many people who have been diagnosed with illnesses such as asbestosis or mesothelioma may have had no or only minimal exposure to asbestos at work. Health experts have also discovered that some diseases once attributed primarily to tobacco use (such as lung cancer) are now being caused or exacerbated by asbestos exposure.
Efha Claims From Civilians
In 2003, the United States government began accepting claims from civilians for asbestos-related illnesses that may have been defense service-related. The Canadian version of this program closed in 1993 when the U.S. government discontinued funding for it. However, a few years ago Efha began accepting claims from civilians who were diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease after serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this program has been particularly successful in obtaining compensation for veterans and their families.
These diseases are latent, meaning they do not occur immediately but can appear decades later. As a result, much former military personnel may not realize their illnesses were caused by asbestos exposure. Many also may have received treatment from doctors who do not recognize the relationship between asbestos and lung disease or perhaps did not keep a complete record of where they served and how they were exposed to asbestos.
Evaluation of Asbestos Cases by Efha
In attempting to determine whether any particular illness was work-related, Efha evaluates each case on its merits. This may require medical evidence, as well as a detailed military record including the dates of service and any periods spent overseas or in areas where asbestos exposure was likely.
Efha is very familiar with the Canadian Armed Forces medical system since it has represented over 1,400 former members of the armed forces who were ill-treated or mistreated by military doctors. It is able to evaluate a case quickly and accurately, often providing a first opinion within days of receiving the necessary information.
Efha Offices Location
Efha has offices in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver (in addition to its branch office in Edmonton). Any former member of the armed forces who served on Canadian soil or was posted overseas during World War II, the Korean War, or any time up to April 1, 1968, could be eligible for representation. The Efha legal team is also prepared to accept cases from veterans of foreign armed forces who were posted in Canada and used Canadian-supplied equipment.
The two most common forms of asbestos used by the military were amphibole asbestos (brown and blue or “amosite” asbestos) and chrysotile asbestos (white or “chrysotile” asbestos). Amphibole asbestos was used primarily in ships, aircraft, vehicles, and buildings. It was also used to some extent as an insulating material in pipes and valves. However, amphibole-based products were replaced in Canada by the late 1950s.
Hence, most veterans who worked in shipyards or garages and were exposed to asbestos will have been exposed to amosite. In the past, chrysotile was used as a spray-on insulating material for pipes and valves. It was applied using either open (in which case it may have become airborne) or closed (where it is not likely to have become airborne) spraying techniques. However, this type of application was abandoned by the military long before 1968.
Despite the fact that amphibole asbestos is no longer used in Canada, and that exposure levels were generally low during the time Canada was using asbestos-based products, veterans who were exposed to any type of asbestos while serving their country may be able to receive compensation from Efha.
The organization is also willing to consider applications from civilians who are claiming an asbestos-related disease that was triggered by military service in Canada or overseas. While the Canadian government closed its program for such claims in the early 1990s, Efha believes some veterans may have been overlooked.
Veterans who receive a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease after serving in the Canadian Armed Forces should contact Efha immediately to discuss their case and find out if they are eligible for compensation.
Important Efha Contacts
If you have any questions about this article or would like additional information, please contact one of the following:
Debra Niemczyk at 1-800-461-5255 (613-260-4202 in the Ottawa region) or email a letter to [email protected] .
Brian McKenna at 1-‘800-461-5255 (604 564 4571 in the Vancouver area) or by writing to 162-3555 Dollarton Highway, North Vancouver, British Columbia V7G 2C6.
Terry Parker at 1-800-461-5255 (780-489 4561 in the Edmonton area) or by writing to 9205 101 Street NW, Suite 800 South Tower Edmonton Alberta T5J 3S4.
If you have been exposed to asbestos at any time, you may be able to claim compensation by contacting Efha.