WSIB has now accepted 36 previously rejected Peterborough General Electric health claims

February 6, 2018
Article Source
The Peterborough Examiner

A total of 36 former workers who got cancer from exposure to toxic chemicals at General Electric in Peterborough are getting compensation from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), even though their claims were previously turned down.

One additional worker who made a claim unrelated to cancer - also previously turned down - had the claim accepted after all, bringing the total to 37 acceptances.

Seven of those 37 are fresh: they've occurred since mid-December.

Meanwhile 35 claims have had the original rejection upheld.

It's all part of an ongoing process that began in September; that's when WSIB reopened 250 claims from sick GE employees that had been rejected for lack of scientific evidence linking cancer to workplace chemicals.

In light of new scientific studies, WSIB is now reviewing the 250 claims.

Yet the co-author of one of those new studies says he remains deeply skeptical of the process.

"Right now the board (WSIB) has been dealing with the low-hanging fruit - the cases that are less complicated," said Bob DeMatteo.

He said there are "more complicated cases" yet to be reviewed: those of workers diagnosed with more than one type of cancer, for instance.

Those are being left to last for political reasons, DeMatteo thinks. He believes many of those cases will be rejected in the spring, just as the provincial election campaign is likely to eclipse the GE story.

In the meantime, DeMatteo said, "the board (WSIB) is looking like the good guy."

But Aaron Lazarus, vice-president of communications for WSIB, said the idea isn't to make the board look good - it's to help people.

Lazarus said WSIB didn't evaluate the complexity of each case; they simply reviewed the cancer cases first.

Read more: WSIB has now accepted 36 previously rejected Peterborough General Electric health claims