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Canadians observe Day of Mourning for fallen workers

By Mari-Len De Guzman
| www.cos-mag.com
Image courtesy of the CCOHS

Workplaces and other organizations across the country is commemorating National Day of Mourning today, remembering those who have been injured or killed on the job.

In 2007, close to one million Canadian workers were injured in the workplace. In the same year, 1,055 workplace-related deaths were recorded. In the international front, more than 2.2 million workers die on the job each year, according to the International Labour Organization.

Now on its 25th year, Canada’s National Day of Mourning is observed on April 28 every year, in honour of the millions of workers who suffered a workplace injury or illness. Workplace safety advocates across the country hold various ceremonies to commemorate the event.

“It is a day to pay tribute to the thousands who are living with the effects of a workplace injury or illness, and who are striving to move their lives forward in hope and dignity,” writes Workplace Safety and Insurance Board chair Steve Mahoney in an open letter published on the WSIB website. “For those of us who are dedicated to protecting workers on the job, the Day of Mourning is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to eliminate all workplace deaths, injuries, and illnesses. It’s also an opportunity to look at the support we provide for injured and ill workers and ask ourselves what more we can do to ensure their well-being.”

Through its prevent-it.ca website, the WSIB had set up a special Day of Mourning page where people can dedicate and light a virtual candle to honour injured workers.

Other provinces are also observing this day with various Day of Mourning ceremonies held in different parts of the country. In British Columbia, 23 different ceremonies are scheduled to be held between April 26th and May 2nd.

In the Atlantic Region, around 20 different events in New Brunswick, Newfoundland-Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have been organized in relation to the Day of Mourning observance.

Robert Dugas, chair of WorkSafeNB (New Brunswick) called on people to “reaffirm our commitment to workplace safety”

“Last year, 12 workers lost their lives in work-related incidents, and more than 12,000 were injured, while so far this year two workers have died. This is clearly unacceptable. But unfortunately, 57% of New Brunswickers view workplace injuries as inevitable. By always keeping safety in mind we can change these attitudes,” Dugas said.

The National Day of Mourning was first observed in Canada in 1984. April 28 was chosen as the day of remembrance because it was the day of the third reading for the first-ever comprehensive Worker’s Compensation Act (Ontario 1914) in Canada. Today, the Day of Mourning is observed in more than 100 countries worldwide.

To light a virtual candle for a fallen worker visit:

www.prevent-it.ca

To dedicate a virtual flower to those who have been injured or lost their lives due to a workplace incident visit:

www.dayofmourning.bc.ca

(Day of Mourning logo used for this article courtesy of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)

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