Court rules against sick transit workers

Six transit workers from Medicine Hat have been told they can't sue their employer over what they claim are job-related illnesses. The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled the six men were not entitled to sue and it also concluded the men were not injured on the job. The workers tried to sue the City of Medicine Hat, several companies and the provincial government for compensation. They claim they were poisoned by methane gas while working on methanol-fueled transit buses in the early 1990's. Their symptoms are fatigue and nausea. One man, Darryl Kallis, is now in Dallas, Texas being treated for chemical poisoning. Kallis is disappointed with the ruling. "If you're not entitled to Workers' Compensation, there's got to be avenues where you can get compensation," says Kallis. "It seems an employer can do anything they want and not be held accountable." The Workers' Compensation Board had previously turned down the transit workers' request for compensation. WCB spokesman Douglas Mah says the ruling reaffirms the integrity of the system. "It's important that our workers and employers and the general public know that the workers' compensation system is a fair one," says Mah. The workers now say they may consider suing companies outside the province or taking the case to the Supreme Court.