“GE Peterborough workers’ cancer cases get second look” / Kristin Rushowy (Toronto Star, 23 Oct.)
Late last week former GE Peterborough employee Roger Fowler received word his claim for workers’ compensation for colorectal cancer is being reviewed. After fighting for 26 years for compensation for illness he believes related to two decades of workplace exposure to asbestos and toxic chemicals, he is guardedly optimistic … Following recent research on exposures at the GE Peterborough plant, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is reconsidering approximately 250 previously denied claims. Sixteen of those have been reviewed so far, with 10 approved and 6 denied. Currently thirty new claims have been filed.
The Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition of Peterborough (OEHCP) fears that the process could take years, despite the Minister of Labour’s estimated completion date of Jan. 2018. There is a call for the government to allow automatic compensation (presumptive entitlement) for claims from workers diagnosed with occupational disease who were employed in the plant between 1945 and 2000.
The delays, burden of proof placed on injured workers, and insufficient funding to help GE workers with claims were issues raised in the House on Thursday** and at a Queen’s Park press conference by the GE Retirees Occupational Health Advisory Committee the previous day. The Committee’s letter calling on the government to take immediate action to resolve the claims was supported by Unifor [see media release]. In a letter to Minister Flynn, Orlando Buonastella of Injured Workers Consultants Community Legal Clinic, stressed the importance for these injured workers, deeply mistrustful of the WSIB given their past experiences, to be able to access local and personal assistance with their claims through adequate funding of the local OHCOW and Office of the Workers’ Advisers. (**Oct. 27 update: in follow-up debate on Oct. 24th, Cindy Forster (MPP Welland) gave the House an update on what has happened this year in regard to the GE Peterborough situation and repeated her request for details on the review panel and funding for OHCOW.
- 2017 Oct. 19. “NDP Blasts Wynne Government for Dragging Feet Over WSIB General Electric Peterborough Toxic Workplace Claims Review.” Peterborough Examiner
- Rushowy, Kristin. 2017 Oct. 19. “Ailing GE Peterborough Workers Still Waiting for Justice, Group Says.” Toronto Star