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McIntyre Powder apology made at Queen’s Park

An Elliot Lake woman attended Queen’s Park on Wednesday to hear Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton apologize to miners and their families for the use of McIntyre Powder.

Miners were forced to breathe the powder as part of their employment.

Janice Martell started the McIntyre Powder Project to prove there was a potential link between the powder and neurological disease and was successful in having that link recognized.

Her father, Jim Hobbs, inhaled the powder while working as a miner and died in 2017 of Parkinson’s.

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Earlier this year, the province made the changes to allow families and miners who developed Parkinson’s to file claims and be compensated for occupational disease.

McNaughton gave the apology Wednesday afternoon to miners who were exposed to the powder from 1943 and 1979 supposedly to protect them from lung disease.

McNaughton says the apology will not bring back loved ones but hopes that it will ease the pain and sadness so many have faced over the years.


Thank you, Speaker. I am pleased to rise as Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development to extend an apology that is long overdue, on behalf of all the Members of the Legislature and the people of Ontario. It has been more than 40 years since McIntyre Powder has been used in Ontario mines, but for the thousands of miners who were exposed to the powder, it might as well have been yesterday. They were told by their employers that this powder would help protect them from lung disease and that they had to inhale it to continue working in the mines.

These 25,000 miners across Northern Ontario didn’t have a choice. For them, their livelihoods depended on taking this powder – and it was supposed to keep them safe. Instead, this powder caused the very things it was supposed to prevent…

The survivors have had to deal with the lingering effects, lung disease and Parkinson’s… While countless families have had to watch their loved ones suffer, helpless to do anything in relief. Today, there are more than 30 people here, who’ve travelled from across Northern Ontario… Family and friends who have had to watch their fathers, brothers and sons live this hell… … including six miners here who experienced this themselves. I also want to recognize miners like Isadore Commando, David St. Georges, and thousands of others who didn’t live to see this day.

And Janice Martell. Janice is the daughter of Elliot Lake miner, Jim Hobbs. Jim died in 2017, after a 16-year battle with Parkinson’s. Janice, I don’t need to have met him to know how proud he would be of the fight you have taken up…

Speaker, I also want to recognize my colleague across the floor – the Member for Sudbury. His unwavering commitment to his constituents – and miners all across the North – helped bring us to this day. Today’s apology is the next step in our actions to support our miners.

I’m proud to say earlier this year, the Premier and our government declared Parkinson’s disease to be an occupational disease that is the result of work-related exposure to McIntyre Powder. As a result, miners who were exposed to McIntyre Powder and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s are entitled to compensation without having to produce any evidence that their disease is work-related.

For the miners and families here today, this means not only faster compensation, but equally as important, recognition that what businesses demanded these workers to do was wrong.

Speaker, I am proud that our government also funded the research that led us to this momentous occasion. And today is just a start – our government will continue to make investments to help identify and recognize occupational illnesses and support those who have been injured by exposure on the job … because anyone in Ontario who falls ill because of their job should have the confidence that they and their loved ones will be taken care of. That is why our government launched the first-ever review of our province’s occupational illness system to deliver lasting change workers for and their families.

This review is being led by an independent research centre at St. Michael’s Hospital with unparalleled expertise in studying complex health issues.

Their work, will lead to improved recognition of workplace diseases, a better understanding of the exposures that lead to them, and most importantly… More days like today. While we know that an apology will not bring your loved ones back… It will not ease the pain and sadness so many of you have had to endure… This tragedy should not have happened to you … It should not have happened to your loved ones… And, to each and every one of you, on behalf of the people of Ontario… I am truly sorry.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to stand with me to honour and remember the victims of this tragedy Thank you.

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