Day of Mourning honours those killed or injured at workplaces

May 2, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Over 1000 people die in Canada each year from job-related accidents and more that 240,000 more are injured.

Those figures are apparently the lower estimate, as many injuries or deaths are not even reported as job-related.

The National Day of Mourning is a day to remember those fallen and injured workers. Organized nationally by the Canadian Labour Congress, memorial events happen around the country. This year the Day of Mourning took place last Sunday, April 28.

In Orangeville, a pyramid shaped cenotaph located at Town Hall was the focal point of the event. 

Locally, the day is organized and hosted by the Orangeville District Labour Council (ODLC).

“This is to draw attention to the fact that some of the rules in health and safety are not followed, or not met through the federal or provincial government. When the Westray act was passed it was ‘kill a worker – go to jail’, and no one has ever been to jail.” explained Primrose Short, ODLC president. “Most accidents – they are accidents – but most can be prevented if they follow the rules and regulations. Today is a day to remember those injured, killed, or maimed on the job. There are also industrial workplace diseases as well.”

An explosion on May 9, 1992, deep inside the Westray Mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia killed 26 underground miners. A public inquiry blamed mine management, bureaucrats and politicians for a tragedy “that should have been prevented.”

The Westray Bill (Bill C-45) imposing criminal liability on corporations and executives that fail to ensure a safe workplace, became law in 2004.

Keynote speaker Mari Clarke Walker, secretary treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, underscored the fact that training is a huge issue in the workplace.

“Most workplace deaths of people between the ages of 15 and 24 occur on the first week of the job,” she explained.

Guests at the event included people who have lost loved ones to workplace accidents.

Linda Casey, who lost her son Jon-James to a workplace accident, reminded visitors that after a workplace accident, there is also the “toll it takes on the family’ of people who have died or been severely injured.

In Ontario, at least 240 people died in work-related accidents in 2018.

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