Families still fighting for compensation

The McDonald family, still in litigation following the Walkerton water tragedy 10 years ago. SCOTT DUNN/The Sun Times

The Sun Times
Efforts to obtain compensation for Walkerton’s water disaster have lasted years for two of the hardest-hit kids’ families.
It took 10 years for the Walkerton Compensation Plan to pay anything significant for 11-year-old Kody Hammell, who has lasting health problems from the May 2000 E. coli water tragedy, which left seven dead and about 3,000 sick.
Fighting with the insurance company administering the compensation plan has left Kody’s mother exasperated and the boy’s father angry.
“That has almost split us up so many times. I am so sick of hearing Kevin come home and say, ‘Did you phone the lawyers today?'” Tracey Hammell said in an interview from her home near Hanover.
“I don’t know why it took so long.”
Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris said after a class-action lawsuit was filed that his government’s alternative plan, which was accepted by the claimants, was a humanitarian gesture to avoid courts and lawyers.
The no-fault compensation plan was advertised as “efficient, timely and impartial.” Funds came from insurance companies, topped up by the province.
It paid $2,000 automatically to all Walkerton residents at the time, and most got another $2,000 for mental distress during the six-month water disruption.
It also paid legal bills for those who hired a lawyer to justify further compensation, with no deadline to reapply.
As of this month the plan has paid out $70.5 million to 10,189 approved claims, said Kim Chalmers, manager for the plan administrator, Crawford and Company.
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EDITORIAL: Lessons from Walkerton still┬áto be learned

Ten years later, what have we learned? Not an easy question.
In today’s Sun Times our award-winning news team tells just a few of the heart-wrenching stories that stemmed from the Walkerton tainted-water tragedy.
You’ll be struck by the pathos of these stories. Ordinary lives were forever changed. Seven lives ended. None of that can ever be undone.
We may draw some historical lessons.
The Mike Harris Conservatives rode to power in 1995 infused with a reformist zeal that brooked no opposition.
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