Service acknowledges ‘silent epidemic’ of occupational disease – by Keith Dempsey (Sudbury Star – September 11, 2018)

The original memorial at Leo Gerard Workers’ Memorial Park contains the names of hundreds of workers who have lost their life on the job.

A new display board, which contains the names of 36 individuals who have lost their life due to occupational disease, was introduced during a moving ceremony on Monday, during which family members who lost a loved one were presented with flowers.

“This has a great atmosphere of remembrance, an atmosphere of honouring those who have died,” JP Mrochek, a WSIB worker representative with the United Steelworkers Local 6500, said. “I hope that people who come to read these names think about how (to) limit those names, reduce those names.”

Mrochek was among a group of speakers Monday, including Ron Dupuis, a former Ward 5 councillor who was instrumental in the creation of the memorial park; Robert Kirwan, current councillor for Ward 5; Nick Larochelle, USW Local 6500 president; the USW International president Gerard, after whom the park was named; and Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas.

“It’s a silent epidemic,” Mrochek said. “People who die of occupational disease never make the front-page news. Absolutely never. And there’s never investigations and there’s never charges. These people die in silence. It’s on us to bring these names to life, to honour them and to teach the next generation that we need to do better.

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