Asbestos miners closer to compensation
Two groups fighting to obtain compensation for sick miners who worked at the Baie Verte asbestos mine say they may be making progress.
The Miners Action Committee and the United Steelworkers of America met with labour minister Paul Shelley earlier this week.
After years of stalled talks and negotiations, both groups believe the meeting might lead to more settlements.
The mine site was developed in the 1950s, and was run by a succession of owners before it closed permanently in 1995.
Miners and their families have been concerned about the health consequences of asbestos for decades. To this day, the union representing the former miners and their families has been fighting for better workers' compensation benefits.
Lawrence Hoven chairs the committee of former asbestos miners who have been trying to get compensation for sick workers.
Hoven said he is cautiously optimistic after his speaking with Shelley.
"They made us feel as if there was something going to happen and we have to accept that," said Hoven.
"It may not be everything that we're looking for but, hopefully at least, it's a start in the right direction."
Andy King of the steelworkers union also attended the meeting. He believes Shelley will now move to once and for all find out if more of the miners have a right to compensation.
"He was quite clear in assuring us that he had the support of the cabinet up to and including the premier on this," said King.
Shelley, who is also the MHA for Baie Verte, said he has advocated for miner compensation for years.
"This has been a long, historic debate in my community, for a long, long time," said Shelley.
"So I want to bring it to the forefront and see where we're going to go with this. But certainly it's going to get a lot of attention."
No one was able to say exactly when some concrete progress might be made, but the steelworkers union said if government is serious about solving the problem, then it should soon put out a tender to develop a registry of sick miners.
Asbestos is known to cause specific types of cancer and lung diseases. It is most dangerous when it is broken up and can then be inhaled.