Ontario Providing Funding to Review Impact of McIntyre Powder on Worker Health
Province Committed to Protecting Workers
Ontario is providing funding to review worker exposure to McIntyre Powder, an aluminum dust used in mines decades ago.
Between 1943 and about 1980, thousands of miners were required to breathe in McIntyre Powder before each shift. It was believed the powder would protect miners' lungs from work-related diseases such as silicosis.
The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) will use the funding to establish a team of occupational and medical health professionals that will determine whether the health issues of some former miners are related to the use of McIntyre Powder. These workers could then use this information to make claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for potential compensation.
Ontario is also protecting mine workers on the job by implementing recommendations from the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review to further improve health and safety in mines, including revising the training course for newly hired mine inspectors and forming a committee to recommend regulatory changes to reduce mining hazards.
Protecting workers is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.
- Ontario will provide $1 million to the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) to review worker exposure to McIntyre Powder.
- Forty-five mining companies were licensed to use McIntyre Powder from 1943 to about 1980 in Ontario, with an estimated 10,000 mine workers exposed to the powder during the program.
- OHCOW currently has 325 case files of miners exposed to McIntyre Powder. Another 90 workers or survivors are currently seeking OHCOW’s services related to exposures to the powder.
- Another 195 workers have reported health effects (particularly neurological disorders like dementia) to a voluntary registry maintained by the McIntyre Powder Project community group.
- Ontario has about 40 underground mines and thousands of surface mines, with about 26,000 workers.
“It is critical that occupational diseases be treated with the same seriousness and importance as physical injuries. In addition to this funding initiative, we have conducted a comprehensive mining safety review. Implementation of its recommendations is well underway to further the health and safety of mine workers. We must ensure all mine workers return home safe and sound at the end of each shift.”
“Mine workers can be exposed to a number of contaminants leading to occupational disease. This grant will help support and expand OHCOW’s capacity and expertise to address occupational illnesses as it relates to issues with miners past and present. It is essential mine practices be safe and that controls are put in place to prevent dangerous exposure. We all have a shared responsibility to ensure workers are protected when they work in Ontario mines.”
“This funding is critically important to enable the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers to process the large volume of information gathered from mine workers and their families by the McIntyre Powder Intake Clinics working group. I thank Minister Flynn and his staff for working with us to find answers about the health effects of aluminum dust exposure on the affected mine workers.”