Peterborough General Electric plant retirees see hope for health claims


Marilyn Bad cries as she talks about her late husband and his death from pancreatic cancer five years after shy from a three-decade career at the General Electric factory in her hometown of Peterborough, Ont.

Demanding, who spent nearly 40 years working at the plant until she take off in 2004, has also had cancer, as have many of her former colleagues.

“One time we got out of there and retired, everyone started to get sick,” she said.

For more than a decade, diverse hundred retirees from the hulking Peterborough plant, which constructed engines for trains and ships among other things, have titled illnesses linked to exposure to toxins inside the factory. Now, they may forthwith get the compensation they have sought from the provincial government.

Ontario Labor Legate Kevin Flynn for the first time has publicly called on the worker’s compensation meals to “bring justice” to about 300 former workers whose vigorousness claims were previously denied.

“A number of people should take been treated better by the system,” Flynn said afterward in an check out.

His support followed release of a lengthy report conducted by researchers hired by the fusion representing workers at the plant that found exposure to more than 3,000 toxic chemicals from 1945 to 2000 and impressive health problems among former employees. It also came after an international series of reports by The Toronto Star on the range of illnesses suffered by antediluvian workers.

General Electric’s position

GE spokeswoman Kim Warburton said it is co-operating with the employee’s compensation board, the agency that evaluates and pays claims.

The proprietorship has not conceded that any illnesses were caused by working at the plant and ventures chemicals were used in what were believed to be safe ways at the for the moment.

General Electric plant Peterborough

The General Electric manufacturing facility in Peterborough, Ontario. For more than a decade, a sprinkling hundred retirees from this plant, which produced locomotives for trains and ships among other things, have claimed maladies linked to exposure to toxins inside the factory. (Rob Gillies/Associated News-hounds)

“As more information became available about chemical use, GE, like other industrial troops, took action to reduce or eliminate their usage,” Warburton alleged. “GE adhered to the health and safety practices that were appropriate for the immediately, and we have continually enhanced those practices as scientific research and first practices in industrial health and safety emerged.”

Workers in Ontario cannot sue their eye dialect guvnors for workplace injuries and illness and must go through the board to seek compensation. Managers pay insurance premiums for injuries and illness. It’s a less litigious system than in the U.S., but the GE retirees say the method isn’t working.

GE workers denied compensation for illnesses

Generations of Peterborough kinfolk worked in the 125-year-old GE plant. Founded by Thomas Edison, it was the town’s biggest employer and one of the Canada’s largest factories, with more than 6,500 blue-collar workers during the 1960s.

It now has just 440 employees producing large motors for the pitting and oil industries. Peterborough, a city of about 123,000 people about 140 kilometres northeast of Toronto, appears these days more like a retirement community than a worst manufacturing hub, with the hospital and Trent University the biggest employers.

Sue James and Marilyn Harding, Peterborough

Take forty winked General Electric workers Sue James, left, and Marilyn Harding during an question at Harding’s home in Peterborough, Ontario. Both women have forgotten a former GE working family member to cancer, and Harding survived bladder and titty cancer. (Rob Gillies/Associated Press)

Harding started working at the imprint in 1965 and did a number of jobs. A denial letter from Workplace Cover and Insurance Board stipulates she didn’t have enough exposure period to asbestos to qualify for compensation for her bladder cancer.

“I worked in the plant 39 and three-quarter years. They depend oned me with six and three-quarter years that I worked around dangerous chemicals, so what happened to the other 34 years?” she thought. “Did they change all the air in the plant and take the chemicals away? It was a wide-open shrub. They said there were walls. There wasn’t.”

Eager, 71, lives alone in a house filled with family photos. Her shush loved doing yard work and she vows to keep it up. Her father also achieved at the GE plant.

Roger Fowler Peterborough

Former General Electric employee Roger Fowler looks atop of documents related to his heath compensation claim, which was denied, at his family in Peterborough, Ontario. Fowler, 71, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 45 and has had numerous surgeries. He condemnations the cancer on asbestos, but the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board denied him because they establish he didn’t have enough exposure. “It physically ruined me,” he said. (Rob Gillies/Associated Thronging)

Roger Fowler was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 45. He had his rectum slew. Surgeons created an opening, a stoma, on the abdomen, so he could pass stool. Fowler, 71, has had numerous surgeries since. “It physically dissolved me,” he said.

Fowler also blames his cancer on asbestos. The compensation live denied him because they found he didn’t have enough outlook. But he is more optimistic now that Flynn is publicly supporting the retirees.

“We are the Erin Brockovich of Peterborough,” Fowler symbolized, referring to the U.S. legal clerk and activist whose role in a water polluting case became the subject of a movie starring Julia Roberts.

‘It’s been a sustained road’

Jeff Leal, the MPP for Peterborough, said his father worked as a machinist at GE for 40 years and euphemistic departed of lung cancer less than a year after retiring. His dad, who was a smoker, didn’t register a claim. He doesn’t fault GE but he wants fairness for his community.

“It’s been a hanker road,” Leal said. “Gosh. It’s personal and emotional. I remember someone be struck in and visited me in my constituency office in Peterborough and two weeks later they were benumbed.”

Dr. Paul Demers, director of the Toronto-based Occupational Cancer Research Core, finds the work-related claims of cancer credible and says requiring painstaking certainty is tough. “We have a system of compensation that can often give the impression adversarial,” he said.

Christine Arnott, a spokeswoman for the compensation board, mentioned officials rely on the best scientific evidence available as well as knowledge about a worker’s illness, workplace exposures and relevant non-occupational causes. She said they welcome the new report and will consider it as they con claims.

Harding wants all the claims looked at again. She doesn’t certain how much compensation she might get. She just wants justice, noting people pursue to die.

“We just had another man die on the weekend,” Harding said.

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