Family members of Peterborough General Electric retirees held a small rally outside Queen’s Park Thursday to demand the province expedite occupational disease claims from former workers.
At issue is an on-going review of 250 previously denied claims by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
WATCH ABOVE: Peterborough GE retirees stage rally at Queen’s Park
Last Fall, the WSIB reversed 30 of those decisions, and at the end of February, the board said the review process was about two thirds complete.
Yet the group, which is called “Families-in-Waiting,” says dozens of blue-collar workers and their families continue to wait to have their claims reviewed. The process is taking too long, the protestors said.
“Just 90 days before the June 7th Ontario election, we stand together on the steps of Queen’s Park in disappointment and rage,” said Sandra Condon, widow of GE worker Ed Condon. “We are asking Premier Kathleen Wynne to fix the mess. Justice has not been served, closure is incomplete.”
Lori Carl said her father Art Carl worked at GE for 42 years in a variety of roles. She says he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001, just after his retirement. She said that the disease eventually spread to his liver, lungs and brain, and that he died eight years after his diagnosis.
Her father’s claim was denied in 2004, she said. He appealed and her late mother, Diane Carl, pursued resolution of the WSIB claim for 16 years until she died in 2017. Carl said she promised her mother she would not abandon the fight.
“The appeal never went anywhere — they kept losing things — we got nothing from them,” Carl said.
Since 1993, the WSIB has heard more than 2,400 claims regarding the Peterborough plant. The WSIB states that 80 per cent of those claims were allowed.
“We have all worked patiently with (Labour) Minister Kevin Flynn in order to give government and the WSIB compensation process a chance to bring fair review of the denied compensation claims,” Carl said. “They did their best. The WSIB process has failed and time has run out!”
Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, who is a member of the government, joined the group at the short rally. His father was a 40-year GE employee and Leal has long advocated that the WSIB settle outstanding cases to bring closure to employees and their families.