TORONTO, April 05, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–An awareness campaign is underway across Canada to find elderly former miners and their surviving family members who may be entitled to life-changing industrial illness compensation.
The campaign follows a pioneering decision by the Ontario government to finally recognize Parkinson’s disease as a compensable occupational disease linked to the use of so-called McIntyre Dust in the province’s mining industry for several decades.
The Ontario government’s decision will make it much easier for former miners and their families to file workers’ compensation claims and receive payments from the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
“These will be the simplest occupational disease claims we’ve seen in decades,” said Marty Warren, Canadian director of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.
“It’s important for former miners and their families to know that if they file claims, it’s not going to be the typical workers’ compensation issue they’ve heard about in the past. So it’s crucial that people know about this,” Warren said. . .
The USW and other worker advocacy groups lobbied for years for the Ontario government to acknowledge that medical evidence showed a direct link between Parkinson’s disease in miners and their exposure to McIntyre dust.
McIntyre Powder was an aluminum-based inhalant that was used between 1943 and 1979 in mines and other industries where workers could be exposed to silica dust. The theory, ultimately proven false, was that inhaling the finely ground aluminum powder would protect the workers’ lungs. Instead, it made workers sick and caused many deaths.
Thousands of Ontario miners were forced to inhale McIntyre powder during the 36-year period it was in use.
“There was no informed consent. Undergoing aluminum dust inhalation ‘therapy’ was a condition of employment,” says Janice Martell, the daughter of a miner who founded the McIntyre Powder Project in 2015 to defend her father and other miners. exposed. to toxic dust.
Martell’s father, Jim Hobbs, was required to inhale McIntyre powder at the start of each shift while working at a uranium mine in Elliot Lake, Ontario. He later contracted Parkinson’s disease and died in 2017 without receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
A race against the clock
Now that the Ontario government has recognized Parkinson’s disease as a compensable workplace disease, time is of the essence in finding miners or their surviving family members who are eligible for compensation.
“There’s a race against time element to a lot of these cases,” says Martell.
“It’s been 43 years since McIntyre Powder was last used in the mining industry, so virtually all miners suffering from Parkinson’s, or the surviving spouses of deceased miners, are elderly,” he notes.
“Most of these people will not know that they are now eligible for compensation and that, in many cases, it can be substantial. Many of them are undoubtedly financially challenged, so this can have a significant impact on their lives.”
Neither the Ontario government nor the WSIB is trying to track down former miners or surviving family members who may be eligible for compensation. As a result, the USW, the McIntyre Powder Project, and the Occupational Health Clinics for Workers of Ontario (OHCOW) are reaching out to the media, unions, and other advocacy groups across the country to spread the word and try to reach as many potential claimants as possible. possible.
“Over the years, these former Ontario miners and their surviving family members have likely settled in communities across Canada and beyond,” says Myles Sullivan, USW director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
“We will do everything we can to reach out to these people and let them know that this compensation is available to them and that they deserve it,” says Sullivan.
For information about the claims process, former miners and surviving family members may contact Janice Martell of the McIntyre Powder Project at 1-800-461-7120, [email protected]
SEE THE BACKGROUND:
McIntyre Powder: A Dark Age in Canada’s Mining Industry
View the source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220405005755/en/
Marty Warren, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Myles Sullivan, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Janice Martell, McIntyre Dust Project, 1-800-461-7120, [email protected]
Sylvia Boyce, USW District 6 Health and Safety Coordinator, 905-741-9830, [email protected]
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 647-522-1630, [email protected]