'My dad died not knowing', long awaited funding boost rolled out
Published Wednesday, October 11, 2017 4:46PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:38PM EDT
A million dollars in provincial money is coming for a Northern Ontario woman's ongoing effort to examine what effect aluminum powder may have had on the health of miners.
Thousands were forced to inhale the powder before going underground. It was thought the powder would prevent lung cancer.
Janice Martell has been waiting years for this funding announcement, and it's personal.
She believes exposure to McIntyre Powder led to severe neurological diseases in some miners; including her own father, Jim Hobbs. He succumbed to Parkinson's disease this year.
"It bothers me that it took this long for the funding to come through," she said.
"My dad died not knowing that the funding was in there. He knows I'm a fighter and he knows that I'd follow it through, but he's not around to tell his story anymore."
The money from the Ministry of Labour will fund studies into over 400 testimonials collected from retired miners and their families.
Information Martell said has been sitting on the shelves at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW).
"OHCOW didn't have the staffing or the resources to do the kind of work that needs to be done," explained Martell.
"We've been doing the best that we can, but we've been waiting on this funding to address the files."
So far, those working on the project haven’t been able to prove a link between McIntyre Powder and degenerative diseases, but they feel they can.
"It seems to me that there is evidence there. We just have to demonstrate that the evidence is sound," said Kevin Hedges, an occupational hygienist.
Martell hopes the funding will help prove McIntyre Powder caused diseases like the one that claimed her father's life and she hopes it will allow surviving miners and their families to seek compensation and above all, closure.
"I want to say this is what happened," she said.
"This is what occupational disease looks like, and it's ugly."