International News

Canada: Quebec farmers to get Parkinson's compensation

For people working in the agriculture industry who have developed Parkinson's as a result of long-term exposure to pesticides, claiming benefits from Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CNESST) is about to get easier. With Parkinson's added to the province’s list of accepted occupational illnesses, people working on farms will no longer have to prove the disease is related to their work.

However, similar to a law introduced in France in 2012, Quebecers who seek compensation will have to prove they have had direct exposure to pesticides through contact or inhalation over a period of at least 10 years. The Parkinson's diagnosis must also have been made within seven years after the end of exposure to pesticides. According to a statement from the Labour Ministry, this change represents the government’s acknowledgement of “the evolution of scientific advances” which show that “exposure to pesticides, without the prescribed precautionary measures, can have harmful effects on human health.”

In a statement, Quebec minister of agriculture, fisheries and food, André Lamontagne, said: “By promoting better access to the compensation plan for the thousands of men and women who work daily to feed Quebec, we are ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.” Elizabeth McNamara, 71, who like her husband developed Parkinson’s after exposure to herbicides on their dairy farm, called the Quebec government's decision “a light at the end of the tunnel.” She is a member of the Association of Quebec Pesticide Victims, which lobbied hard for this change. “We did it for employees but we didn't do it for ourselves,” she said. “We thought an employee would get hurt by a machine, not from an airborne pesticide.” McNamara also wants to see other conditions related to pesticide exposure added to the occupational health list, including Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's and fertility issues. 
Read more: CBC News. Source: Risks 992

USA: Amazon grovels after pee-in-vans denial

Amazon has apologised to a US politician for falsely denying its drivers have been forced to urinate in plastic bottles. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, referenced Amazon making “workers urinate in water bottles” in a tweet. The official Amazon Twitter account then replied: “If that were true, nobody would work for us.”

The company has now apologised after evidence emerged of drivers having to urinate in bottles.

“We owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” Amazon said in a statement. “The tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfilment centres.”

Mr Pocan had criticised Amazon for opposing efforts by workers to unionise a major facility in Alabama. Amazon's retraction added: “We know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes, and this has been especially the case during COVID when many public restrooms have been closed.”

Mr Pocan rejected the apology, tweeting: “Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers - who you don't treat with enough respect or dignity. Start by acknowledging the inadequate working conditions you've created for ALL your workers, then fix that for everyone and finally, let them unionise without interference.” Amazon has successfully fought off unionisation efforts in the US. However, most of its European facilities are unionised. 
Read more: Amazon statement and Amazon twitter exchange with Rep. Pocan. BBC News Online. Source: Risks 992

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