May 31, 2018 - Vol. 7 No. 7
June 1, Ontario Injured Workers' Day
Justice for Injured Workers!
for Injured Workers
Is a Right!
• Justice for Injured Workers!
Compensation for Injured Workers Is a Right!
Standing Up for
Injured Workers in Northern Ontario
• Four Successful Days of Action
in Support of the Rights of Injured Workers
• Sudbury Injured Workers' Group
First Meeting a Success! - Christine Nugent and Dianne
• Coming Events
June 1, Ontario Injured Workers' Day
Justice for Injured Workers!
Compensation for Injured Workers Is a Right!
Injured workers across Ontario are in action to defend
and the rights of all and to make their voice heard during the
provincial election and at Injured Workers' Day actions on June 1.
inspiring series of events took place in Northern Ontario in recent
days for this year's Justice Bike Ride in the lead-up to the annual
June 1 rally at Queen's Park, which are reported on in this issue
of Ontario Political Forum.
The Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups (ONIWG)
campaign "Workers' Comp Is a Right" last fall to ensure this important
fight for rights is on the agenda in the election. The problem of
compensation for injured workers is not a problem just for injured
workers and their families. It is a problem which concerns the
society itself. Taking up this fight not only defends the rights of
injured workers but the right of all Ontarians to compensation that
permits them to live in dignity if they fall ill or are injured due to
After years of austerity and cuts, the compensation
broken. The ONIWG campaign is demanding that the original agreement set
out in 1914, with the establishment of the Workers' Compensation
(WCB) be restored and honoured. In 1914, injured workers gave up
rights to sue their employer when they were
injured or killed on the job in return for a promise that they would be
adequately compensated by the WCB, now known as the Workplace Safety
and Insurance Board (WSIB). For years, the government and the WSIB have
been cutting benefits for injured workers using various pretexts under
the hoax that the WSIB has an "unfunded liability" to pay down.
Employers' WSIB premiums have gone
unchanged while the cost of care is being downloaded onto
municipalities and injured workers themselves.
The key campaign demands for a compensation system that
protects everyone are:
1. No cuts based on phantom jobs (known as
2. Listen to injured workers' treating
3. Stop cutting benefits based on pre-existing
The marginalization of injured workers by the Ontario
and the WSIB, where they are forced to fend for themselves to get
treatment and the compensation they need, is not acceptable. The unjust
denial of benefits and impoverishment of injured workers by the WSIB
must be rejected. So too must all the WSIB schemes to let
employers off the hook when it comes to paying the necessary premiums
to fund the system.
Join injured workers for the 35th annual Injured
actions at Queen's Park on June 1, or at other local actions
Standing Up for Injured Workers in
Four Successful Days of Action in Support of the Rights
of Injured Workers
Northeastern Ontario was the scene of four days of
activities in support of the rights of injured workers from
May 25 to 28. The activities were organized by the Ontario Network
Workers' Groups (ONIWG) and the McIntyre Powder Project (MPP).
On the afternoon of May 25, a seminar was held in
Elliot Lake to
provide information on the effects of McIntyre Powder. That evening, a
reception was held to inaugurate the fourth annual Justice Bike Ride.
This year it was called the Jim Hobbs Memorial Ride, with the first leg
of the ride going from Elliot
Lake to Jim Hobbs' hometown of Massey for a
reception. The riders biked to Sudbury the next day where they were met
with a reception and BBQ at the Steel Hall. On May 28, the
meeting of the Sudbury Injured Workers' Group was successfully held.
"We must take our compensation system back!" was the spirit that imbued
the four days of events in Northern Ontario.
Elliot Lake McIntyre Powder Project Seminar
Janice Hobbs Martell (front centre) with Justice Bike Riders in Elliot
Lake, May 25, 2018.
McIntyre Powder is a mixture of aluminum and aluminum
oxide. In the middle part of the last century, miners in Ontario's gold
and uranium mines were forced to inhale it at the start of each shift
on the basis that it allegedly protected them from contracting
silicosis. It has been connected with serious neurological disorders,
including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
On May 25, eighty people, almost one per cent of
population, attended the MPP seminar (see
video). Janice Hobbs Martell
(Jim's daughter) presented information on the history of McIntyre
Powder in Ontario mines and the results of her research. Martell was
followed by Dave Wilken, Chief Operating Officer for the
Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW), and
their lead on the McIntyre Powder-exposed worker group. Dave provided
updates on OHCOW's efforts to assist the almost 500 mine workers
have registered with OHCOW at McIntyre Powder Intake Clinics that were
held in Timmins and Sudbury.
Seminar on Occupational Disease in Mining and McIntyre Powder Research
in Elliot Lake,
A team of three from the Northern Ontario School of
Medicine at Laurentian University then presented their research into
potential synergistic effects of combined exposures to McIntyre Powder
and radon (radon is a radioactive gas released when uranium in soil and
rocks breaks down). The team consisted of Dr. Douglas Boreham (an
Elliot Lake native who lost his own father to mining related lung
disease), Andrew Zarnke (a PhD candidate studying radon and McIntyre
Powder, who has had McIntyre Powder analyzed in a specialized lab in
France), and Dr. Christopher Thome (who is involved with the work that
Zarnke is doing at SnoLab in Sudbury). Dr. Paul Demers, an
epidemiologist with the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC),
reviewed carcinogens found in mining environments and occupational
disease rates in mine workers. He also discussed the initial phases of
OCRC's planned epidemiological study of neurological disorders in
Ontario miners who were exposed to McIntyre Powder.
evening reception in Elliot Lake welcomed the participants
in ONIWG's 2018 Justice Bike Ride and focused on their "Workers'
Is a Right" campaign (see article above).
First Day of Jim Hobbs Memorial Ride from Elliot Lake
Jim Hobbs Memorial ride from Miners Monument in Elliot Lake to Massey,
May 26, 2018.
On Saturday, May 26, the Jim Hobbs Memorial Ride
kicked off at 7:00
am at the Elliot Lake Miners' Memorial. Three cyclists from ONIWG
(Nicole Simpson, Allen Jones and Peter Page) were joined by two
representatives of OHCOW (Dr. Kevin Hedges, an Occupational Hygienist,
and Cheryl Baker, who is a Client Service
Coordinator at OHCOW). Both are working with the McIntyre
Powder-exposed worker group at OHCOW. Cheryl cycled the
Highway 108 leg
video) and the remaining four cyclists continued on to the Massey
Arena where they were greeted by the Hobbs family and OHCOW staff. The
Ride provided a sense of connection, kinship, and
solidarity, showing that injured workers are united in their efforts to
overhaul the WSIB system and ensure fairness for workers and their
The Justice Bike Ride passed through lands that have
than their share of death and suffering from occupational death, injury
and disease. The uranium mines of Elliot Lake, established to provide a
cheap and secure source of uranium for U.S. Cold War efforts, caused
the premature deaths of hundreds if not thousands of miners
from silicosis and exposure to radiation and industrial chemicals. The
situation was such that it gave rise to the Ham Commission which
eventually led to the Occupational Health and Safety Act
and the limited rights of Ontario workers to refuse unsafe work.
Uranium tailings and industrial chemicals severely polluted the Serpent
affecting the health of members of the Serpent River First Nation
through whose traditional territory the bike riders also passed.
Massey Reception Honours Memory of Jim Hobbs
Greeting the Justice Bike Ride in Massey
The riders greatly appreciated the Hobbs family, many
travelled from as far away as Marathon and Thunder Bay, to feed,
accommodate and support the riders and to commemorate the first
anniversary of Jim Hobbs' passing. The cyclists and the Hobbs family
were joined by members of the Manitoulin & Northshore Injured
Workers' Group and Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes for an
afternoon luncheon and celebration. Hughes spoke about the need to
address deficits in the WSIB system to ensure fairness for injured
workers and those workers who suffer (or die) from occupational
diseases. The participants were entertained by Peter Page who sang
a rendition of the WSIB Prison Blues.
Bike riders at luncheon in Massey with members of Manitoulin &
Workers' Group. On the table is a pair of commemorative miners'
coveralls that is being
signed by mine workers who have suffered from occupational disease.
Second Day of Justice Bike Ride from Massey to Sudbury
Left: Espanola, with Domtar paper mill in background. Right:
On Sunday morning, the Justice Bike Ride continued.
Spanish River, the cyclists took Lee Valley Road to Espanola, home to a
Domtar paper mill. They continued along Highway 17 towards
Highway 17 is a narrow, windy, two-lane highway, passing through
small towns. There have been numerous
tractor trailer collisions on this highway. Genessee & Wyoming
Canada Inc., a U.S. rail monopoly, is threatening to close the
Huron Central Railway unless the federal and provincial governments
over tens of millions of dollars in subsidies. This will
rail cars of freight on Highway 17, greatly increasing the risk
to life and limb from travelling this highway.
The riders passed through Nairn Centre, home to an
sawmill, past some old mines and as they entered Sudbury, the Copper
Cliff Smelter complex of Brazil-based monopoly Vale (formerly Inco).
workers have suffered many deaths and injuries on the job and have felt
the ravages of many industrial diseases. The struggle of Sudbury
workers against deaths, injuries and sickness on the job gave rise to
both Workers' Memorial Day (June 20) and the Day of Mourning
which have become internationally recognized days of commemoration.
Sudbury Walk to the Steel Hall
Justice Bike Ride arrives in Sudbury, May 27, 2018.
The cyclists were joined by supporters at the Princess
School at 3:30 pm. They were greeted by Jamie West, President of
Sudbury & District Labour Council, United Steelworkers health and
safety rep at Vale, and the NDP candidate in Sudbury in the provincial
election. Carrying banners proclaiming "Workers' Comp Is
A Right" and the McIntyre Powder Project, the group walked the last
kilometre to the Steel Hall with the cyclists where they were greeted
by more supporters.
Sudbury Reception to Welcome Justice Bike Riders
More than 50 people
attended the reception organized by
the Sudbury & District Labour Council to welcome the cyclists and
recognize mine workers who have died of occupational diseases. The
front of the hall was decorated with 65 silhouetted hardhats
representing the 65 USW Local 6500 members who
have died from occupational diseases in recent years. The McIntyre
Powder Project, ONIWG and OHCOW had literature tables and displays to
provide information about occupational disease and the danger it poses.
The event was hosted by J.P. Morchuk, USW
Local 6500 Compensation Rep. Deputy Mayor Al Sizer read a
of the City of Greater Sudbury recognizing June 1 as Injured
Day. Janice Hobbs Martell addressed the gathering. Members of ONIWG and
the Justice Bike Riders, including ONIWG
President Willy Noiles, Peter Page, Nicole Simpson, and others spoke. A
moving presentation was made by Sarah (Sally) Toivonen (also known by
her Anishinaabe name of Little Fox) whose husband died last year as a
result of occupational disease. Messages of support were given by Jamie
West and France Gelinas, NDP candidates in Sudbury
and Nickel Belt respectively. Local 6500 provided a BBQ.
Founding of Sudbury Injured Workers' Group
Monday, May 28 was dedicated to organizing injured
Sudbury so as to end the marginalization of the many workers injured or
made ill on the job in the region, particularly miners suffering from
occupational diseases (see report below).
Mourn for the Dead
The demand for safe and healthy working conditions is
struggle. During the Justice Bike Ride and organizing activities, two
workers in northeastern Ontario were killed on the job. On May 25,
William Pye, an employee of the Rayonier Advanced Materials sawmill in
Chapleau died while on the job. The circumstances
surrounding the incident have not yet been disclosed. The Ontario
Ministry of Labour is investigating.
On May 28, another person died in a multi-vehicle
involving a tractor trailer at the intersection of Highways 17
in Lively. This section of Highway 17 is a four-lane limited
highway but the westbound lanes are closed for maintenance, essentially
leaving it as a two-lane
highway. Traffic was detoured along Regional Road 55 (old
the route which the Justice Bike Riders took Sunday.
Sudbury Injured Workers' Group
First Meeting a Success!
On Monday, May 28, a spirited organizing meeting that
culminated in the launch of the new Sudbury Injured Workers' Group was
held at the United Steelworkers Local 6500 Union Hall. The meeting
brought together a force of organizers determined to end the
marginalization of the many injured workers and their families in the
Of concern in the Sudbury and surrounding region is the
suffering from the effects of occupational diseases and the
non-unionized workers that are left to fend for themselves. They and
the unionized injured workers are facing a tsunami of benefit denials
from the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) due to its draconian
treatment of workers: denying claims due to pre-existing conditions,
"deeming" whereby benefits are cut based on jobs injured workers might
be able to do, but that they do no actually have, and an ongoing
to listen to the injured workers' medical practitioners favouring
instead the WSIB's own "paper doctors" who are paid to deny, deny,
Those present included J.P. Mrochek, WSIB worker
representative from USW Local 6500 and Mélodie
Bérubé, the Outreach and Campaign Organizer for the
Sudbury Workers and Education Advocacy Centre.
Representing the legal community were Catherine
Northern Regional Injured Workers' Lawyer, Timmins Temiskaming
Legal Clinic (TTCLC); Laura Lunansky of the Injured Workers Clinic
(IWC); and Rachel Weiner, Staff Lawyer at the Industrial Accident
Victims' Group of Ontario Community Legal Aid Clinic in
Also in attendance were were Nicole Ayotte, Director of
Labour Community Services for the United Way for Algoma District;
Cochrane District; Manitoulin District; Nipissing District; Sudbury
District; Timiskaming District, and Pat Striewe, Worker Health and
Safety Centre representative.
Several organizers from the Ontario Network of Injured
Groups (ONIWG) took part as well, including Willy Noiles, President;
Christine Nugent, Outreach Committee; Dianne Baddeley,
Vice-President Central Ontario; and Gary Hrytsak, President of the
Manitoulin & Northshore Injured Workers' Group.
Given the closeness to the provincial
election there was discussion of the need for a new government and
confirmation that the governments of the past 20 years are
for the demise of the compensation system.
Those with legal expertise outlined for the group the
important processes workers need to follow when injured or made ill on
the job. People discussed the many ways that the WSIB frustrates those
processes, leading to mental stress for these workers on top of their
Willy Noiles outlined his struggles as an injured
encouraged the participants to take a political stand by joining the
Workers' Comp Is a Right Campaign. This led many others to also
share their experience of dealing with the compensation board and being
denied their rights. This was a testimony to the supportive atmosphere
and the overall success of the meetings.
The next meeting will be held June 19
with monthly meetings to follow.
For more information contact: Sudbury Workers'
Education and Advocacy Centre at email@example.com
Rally for Rail -- Move People Not Just Freight
Thursday, May 31 -- 7:00 pm
West Ferris Arena
Auditorium, 42 Gertrude St.
For information: neorn.ca, captrain.ca
All-Candidates Meeting on Labour Issues
Thursday, May 31 -- 6:00-8:00 pm
577 McDonnel St.
Organized by: Peterborough & District
Labour Council, CUPE 3908
and Trent University Faculty Assn.
Affordable Housing Forum with MPP
Thursday, May 31 -- 6:00-7:30 pm
The Mississauga Food Bank,
3121 Universal Dr. Mississauga
For Information click
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