The National Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28, is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the job. This annual event was initiated by the labour movement 33 years ago to increase awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents. This day of remembrance was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, more than eight years after it was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to raise awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents.
While the National Day of Mourning is now recognized in over 100 countries, including Canada, and is observed each year, there is still a lot of work to accomplish to improve workers’ safety. A number of Canadian legislative provisions dealing with occupational health and safety are deemed exemplary internationally, but most Canadian governments have not provided the necessary resources to ensure they are applied.
At Canada Post, we’ve mourned the loss of workers. We’ve had to go through the grief and pain associated with the death of a sister or brother. This year, on April 28, the CLC will commemorate the Westray Mine disaster, in Nova Scotia, where 26 miners lost their life at work following a methane gas explosion. This tragedy led to the adoption, in March 2004, of Bill C-45 that provides for the attribution of criminal liability to organizations and their representatives who fail to abide by their health and safety obligations.
On April 28, we take the time to remember those who lost their lives, suffered injuries or became disabled on the job. We must all commit to continuing the struggle to force employers and governments to fulfill their obligation to make every workplace a safe and healthy one. We must also continue seeking stronger health and safety standards and protection, and better enforcement in our workplaces.