Howard Willems, the Saskatoon man who advocated for broader knowledge about the dangers of asbestos in buildings, has died of cancer at age 59.
Willems had a form of cancer linked to asbestos called mesothelioma, which he believed he contracted while inspecting a number of older food plants in Saskatchewan.
Family members confirmed Willems died on Thursday.
Willems was a proponent for the creation of a registry of buildings that contain asbestos.
Last week, the Opposition NDP brought that issue to the Saskatchewan government.
However, the minister responsible for workplace safety, Don Morgan, said a registry would not be a good idea.
Virtually all public buildings constructed before 1980 contain asbestos and many built since also have it, Morgan noted in response to the NDP.
Morgan suggested a registry of buildings with asbestos might be incomplete and would therefore create a false sense of security.
In 2011, at the age of 58, Willems had a lung removed.
Willems was a building inspector for more than 30 years and believed his exposure to asbestos was related to inspections he did on plants while they were being renovated, especially during the removal of pipes with asbestos insulation.
“When the light hit the right way you could see the fibres in the air," Willems told CBC News earlier in 2012.
He said no one seemed to be concerned at the time about the dangers of breathing in the fibres, and that a registry would help workers to be better informed about hazards.
The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related disease.