April 28 is a Day of Mourning for thousands of Canadian workers killed or injured on the job each year, or who die from work-related diseases. On this day, we mourn, but it is also a time to insist that all levels of government do more to enforce existing health and safety laws and vigorously prosecute violations when a worker is killed or seriously injured.
The labour movement worked for years to get changes to the Criminal Code so that corporations who kill are held criminally liable. This amended law, often called the Westray law, holds employers accountable if they fail to take steps to protect the lives of their employees.
Unfortunately that law is largely being ignored by governments. There have been only a handful of prosecutions for criminal negligence and only one conviction.
It is time for fair and equal treatment before the law for workplace injuries and deaths. We have made progress protecting workers’ health and safety, but together we have to keep fighting for safer workplaces for everyone.