A recently completed research paper shows that about 1,000 of the 1,500 Canadians that were afflicted with the asbestos-caused cancer mesothelioma from 1980 to 2002 received no compensation.
An article for the Globe and Mail points out that the government for the province of Ontario considers mesothelioma a special illness and in accordance with provincial rules, contracting it is supposed to mean being placed on a fast track for compensation from the province’s workplace insurance plan, since there is a presumption that the asbestos exposure came from being on the job.
However, the paper points out that the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) shortchanged victims of the disease, and taxpayers, out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The paper, written by a research team headed by Jim Brophy, one of Canada’s top occupational health experts, said Ontario taxpayers have been covering huge medical bills for people with mesothelioma and thousands of other asbestos-caused cancers – costs that should have been covered by fees the WSIB charges employers to cover workplace diseases.
“In Ontario, the WSIB is legally obliged to reimburse the provincial health-care system for costs related to compensable diseases,” the paper said. “Therefore the failure to recognize the work-relatedness of many mesothelioma cases has resulted in an economic loss to the provincial Ministry of Health.”
The WSIB said in a statement to The Globe and Mail that most people with the disease don’t apply for compensation and, out of those who do, about 90 percent are compensated.
Canada does not compile statistics on asbestos illnesses and has rallied against a ban on the toxic mineral. Doctors in Ontario are not required to notify the WSIB that they are treating patients with mesothelioma. Brophy pointed out that some of those who contracted mesothelioma lived with family members who brought asbestos dust home on their work clothes, and the WSIB refuses to compensate them. Others are having difficulty proving they worked with asbestos for two years or more.