April 28, the National Day of Mourning recognizes workers who have lost their lives due to injury or occupational disease. As that day approaches, Unifor is actively assisting GE-Canada workers and retirees in Peterborough, Ontario who contracted job-related illness due to exposure to hazardous materials at the plant.
Currently 31 Unifor members have submitted claims to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for medical conditions, including several forms of cancer, that have emerged following employment at the plant.
“Unifor has worked diligently to collect records and scientific data to help support WSIB occupational disease claims at GE-Canada,” said Sari Sairanen, Director of Health, Safety and Environment. “But the work of our union will continue because any information on new workplace exposure could lead to successful appeals of previously denied claims.”
Last month, Unifor joined WSIB, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW) to hold public information sessions. The sessions drew hundreds of former workers, along with family members and residents of the community, to receive an update on the claims process and provide the opportunity to submit new claims. Unifor Local 524 Executive participated, led by President Bill Corp and Benefit Representative Shawn Menzies.
“Unifor is reaching out to current and former members who have or are considering an occupational disease claim and to those who received prior rejections,” said Joel Carr, Unifor National Representative. “The union is here to support members through what can be a difficult process, especially for those who are battling illness at the same time.”