Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
April 27, 2011

Day of Mourning: remembering those killed on the job, pushing ahead for a safer workplace

On April 28 we pause to remember Canadian workers who died on the job. It happens at a relentless pace: four deaths a day, over 1000 in a year. Added to this total are the deaths from illnesses not officially recognized as occupational diseases. Compared with most OECD countries where workplace deaths are declining, Canada’s death toll has increased for the last 15 years. This is a record that has to change.

In many instances, it is not the strength of the health and safety legislation that is the problem — it is the lack of real enforcement. For workers in many parts of Canada the monitoring of labour standards has been cut back and, in some cases, they have been replaced by a system of voluntary industry compliance. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is calling for governments to step up enforcement through the use of special prosecutors that would lay charges where employers are responsible for death and serious injury. In addition, the CLC is calling for the introduction of new regulations to cover dangers such as workplace stress, repetitive strain injury, violence in the workplace and exposure to toxins and carcinogens.

For CEIU members, the economic downturn has meant increased pressure to provide the services that Canadians need. These are the conditions that can too easily lead to elevated stress levels, and CEIU locals are urged to take an active role on Workplace Health and Safety Committees to address subjects of concern.

To increase awareness around safety and health issues, CEIU is sponsoring television advertisements between May 2 and 6. You can preview them here.

On the Day of Mourning, Labour Councils across the country are conducting services to commemorate those who have died. Plan to attend if you can. If you cannot, consider recognizing the Day of Mourning in your own workplace. There are many ways to show your respect for those who have been lost and to raise awareness of the work yet to be done.


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