Research into impact of aluminum dust continues; compensation claims under review
Janice Martell cried when she learned the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) would hold a memorial cycling ride between Massey and Elliot Lake this May in tribute to her late father, Jim Hobbs.
The veteran miner made that same trek countless times between 1978 and 1990 while working for the area’s underground uranium mines. In retirement, Hobbs was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – something his daughter attributes to his exposure to a finely ground aluminum dust known as McIntyre Powder – which eventually took his life in May 2017.
That ONIWG is recognizing the significance of occupational disease on the province’s workforce while honouring her father and other miners impacted by McIntyre Powder exposure is a gesture that touched Martell deeply.
“They’re going to be travelling the same route that he would have had to drive every day to go to work,” Martell said. “So it was just really very meaningful that they would come to our area and honour our mine workers.”
Established in 1991, ONIWG is a non-profit organization with 22 member groups advocating for workers who have been injured or become ill while on the job. The organization’s annual cycling ride aims to raise awareness surrounding the challenges addressing injured workers, in addition to raising funds for its advocacy work. This is the first time the ride will travel to Northern Ontario.
To greet the riders, Martell is planning a welcoming reception on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26 at the Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre in Elliot Lake.