Ontario vows to help ailing GE workers

Ontario will do the “right thing” for workers left fighting cancer and other diseases after toxic exposures at the General Electric factory in Peterborough, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn says.In the wake of a 173-page report by GE retirees and Unifor documenting working conditions in the plant from 1945 to 2000, Flynn said Thursday that he wants an “expedited” settlement process in place “as quickly as possible” for those struggling without workers’ compensation.“All I see is people that should have had their claims approved, that didn’t get the justice,” he told reporters at Queen’s Park, recalling a recent visit to Peterborough where a three-day clinic saw 240 workers come for checks, resulting in 170 new claims.“All I see is people who are clearly sick, who worked in a workplace that in the fullness of time was found to be containing some pretty dangerous stuff, and haven’t got the claims they need.”Flynn did not set a deadline or a budget to resolve the claims, which will be handled case by case by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, but said, “I would love to see it settled this year.”Article Continued BelowIn past decades, workers at the Peterborough plant, which manufactured diesel locomotive engines, nuclear reactor fuel cells, household appliances and more, were exposed to more than 3,000 toxic chemicals, including at least 40 known or suspected carcinogens, says the report, released Thursday.The General Electric plant in Peterborough has been a city landmark for over a century. In decades past, workers were exposed to more than 3,000 toxic chemicals, according to a Unifor report released Thursday.  (Melissa Renwick / Toronto Star File Photo)  A spokeswoman for GE said the company has “not had an opportunity to review the report and (is) therefore unable to comment on its content.”“Our No. 1 focus is, and has always been, the health and safety of GE employees working in our facilities across the country,” Kim Warburton said in an email Thursday.