In November 2010, Howard Willems was diagnosed with mesothelioma (an asbestos related cancer of the lungs) and has been undergoing treatment since then. The Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board has classified Howard’s mesothelioma as a work related injury.
Howard, together with Bob Sass, transformed the Saskatchewan Ban Abestos Committee to the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (SADAO) in 2010. This committee is actively working to establish a public registry reporting the condition of asbestos in schools, public and commercial buildings, and providing information to victims of asbestos-related diseases.
Howard Willems worked as an inspector with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for more than 30 years before retiring in early 2012. His union involvement included Agriculture Union Local 40022 President from 1995 until 2002 when he was elected Regional Vice-President Agriculture Union. In 2005 he was elected National Executive Vice-President Agriculture Union. He has co-chaired local and regional occupational health and safety committees and was a member of CFIA’s National OH&Q Policy committee.