No More Tax Dollars for Chrysotile Institute?
On March 1, 2011, the Government of Prime Minister Harper announced plans to slash the Canadian government's budget in a 519-page document entitled 2011-12 Parts 1 and II The Government Expenditure plan and the Main Estimates.1 The official press release accompanying the federal spending allocations said:
For the first time in over a decade, the funding needed to sustain the federal government has decreased. The 2011-12 Main Estimates are over $10 billion lower than the Main Estimates for last year.2
Page 256 of this document lists 11 programs for which financial support is being withdrawn in 2011-12; number 10 on the list is the Asbestos Institute, now known as the Chrysotile Institute (AI/CI). It is not known whether other financial support for the Institute will be forthcoming from the federal government which has, it is widely believed, siphoned money to the asbestos lobby through various channels in the past. Officially declared support for the AI/CI has consisted of equal subsidies from the federal government, the Government of Quebec and the asbestos industry. In recent years, the level of federal funding has remained at $250,000 per year.
If it is true that Ottawa has indeed ended its funding for the asbestos industry's mouthpiece, this news will be welcomed by civil society groups in Canada and abroad. A fortnight before the budget was published, the Canadian Cancer Society and twenty-five health organizations wrote to Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Having urged the Minister to ban asbestos exports and withdraw funding from the CI, they recommended that the money saved by ending support for asbestos be reassigned to formulating a comprehensive strategy to address all aspects of the asbestos issue.3
Attempts are being made to ascertain the details regarding Ottawa's plans regarding the AI/CI widely regarded as a pivotal force in orchestrating the global asbestos lobby. If financial support has indeed been terminated, one might wonder whether the withdrawal of political support could soon follow. Despite the kernel of optimism that the Canadian government might be shifting its position, it should be pointed out that:
Time will tell what the future has in store for the Quebec-based asbestos lobbyists.
March 6, 2011
An article on this subject written on March 3, 2011 entitled More Tax Dollars for Chrysotile Institute quoted a report of continuing federal support for the Institute. This article replaces that document and addresses the uncertainty of the current situation.
4 Letter to MP Simon Danczuk from Christian Paradis. March 2011.