Background and Context:
All forms of asbestos cause cancer and is the leading cause of industrial deaths in Canada. The Canadian Cancer Society believes that all efforts must be made to end exposure to this cancer-causing substance. Creating a public registry is a crucial first step in ensuring that Canadians are not exposed. Access to the information has the potential to protect the public and workers - approximately 4,200 workers in Saskatchewan are unknowingly exposed each year.
Using the Society’s experience, knowledge and expertise to develop and implement a strategy that motivates multiple stakeholders into taking action to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos. Using research, policy and practice, develop an advocacy strategy and public awareness campaign to convince policy-makers to adopt a mandatory public asbestos registry.
1. Public awareness campaign based on a personal cancer experience
2. Transfer research, policy and knowledge into meaningful action
3. Engage necessary partners and stakeholders to collaborate on a communications strategy
4. Develop and time appropriate initiatives (earned media, letter writing campaign, online tools) to keep the issue in the public domain
Within months this issue moved from a Private Members Bill to the first bill ever adopted by the entire legislative assembly, making Saskatchewan the first Canadian province to create a mandatory on-line public asbestos registry. Howard’s Law was was adopted in honour of a building inspector who died of mesothelioma at the age of 59.
Outcomes/What was learned:
Combining evidence, experience and a high profile preventable death generated public support for a cancer control policy. Targeted engagement and strategic communication planning is critical. Howard’s Law campaign is an example of the power of empathy in advocacy.