Victims of Maple Leaf Foods' 2008 listeria outbreak still without compensation
Posted: December 9th, 2011 - 10:30am
Over time, actions are stronger than words.
Maple Leaf honcho Michael McCain may have won platitudes for his risk communication performance during the 2008 listeria-in-deli-meat fiasco that killed 23 and sickened 56 in Canada (not from me), but actions are the true test of words.
Walter Muller got sick from eating Maple Leaf salami in 2008. A year later he received a letter saying he would be compensated for his illness.
He's still waiting.
"I think they're waiting for people like me to die before they pay out," says Muller, who turns 69 next week. "There's no reason why it should take three years to get compensated."
"We are dismayed and frustrated at how long this process has taken, given we paid $25 million to settle these claims almost three years ago," president and CEO Michael McCain said in a statement.
The company said it did everything it could to get money to victims, including contacting premiers to urge their provincial health authorities to reach a settlement.
Among the undisclosed number of claimants to the settlement money are the provincial health authorities, who want a share for their costs in treating people who contracted listeriosis.
"It's only $750 to them but for me, it's a big deal. I was hoping it would come in the spring, then in the summer and fall and then maybe in time for Christmas, but that doesn't look like it will happen," says Muller, a Vancouver resident.
The court-appointed administrator of the settlement fund announced in late November that it has reached an agreement-in-principle with the health authorities on their share of the money. The fund, now estimated around $27 million, has been sitting in a trust as claimants wait for their cheques. No money can be distributed until all claimants have come forward.
For Muller, who got sick with diarrhea and stomach ailments after eating the infected meat, his $750 claim is one of the lowest-ranked. Estates of people who died from complications related to listeriosis are entitled to $120,000.