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Canada: Unifor calls for pandemic protection for workers on National Day of Mourning

Unifor calls for pandemic protection for workers on National Day of Mourning

TORONTO– As Unifor prepares to mark the National Day of Mourning on April 28, the union is calling for immediate government action to provide pandemic protection for workers.

“The pandemic has starkly revealed inequities in our workplaces, with many workers continuing to offer essential services, despite the risks to their health and to that of their families,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “No one should have to die to make a living, but provincial governments continue to reject pandemic measures needed to protect workers.”

Sadly, 19 Unifor members lost their lives since the last Day of Mourning, either on the job or to COVID-19. The seven Unifor members who died from COVID-19 worked in a variety of sectors, including long-term care, warehouse and manufacturing. In their memory, Unifor is continuing to advocate for priority vaccine access for all workers who must leave the house, permanent paid sick days, paid vaccination time and increased rapid testing.

April 28 marks the National Day of Mourning, to pay tribute to workers who died due to workplace injury and occupational disease and recommit to improve health and safety in the workplace. This year’s even takes on special significance during the heightened safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.


Canada: Working people built this country: they’ve earned a right to safe workplaces, and deserve them – UNA


Last year, 150 Alberta workers lost their lives on the job.

Families and co-workers were devastated. There was an empty spot at many tables, conversations will be missed forever, there are deep regrets because there was no chance to say I love you one more time.

Then came COVID-19. When we first heard of the new disease overseas, most of us assumed it would never land it Canada. We thought Western medicine would save us.

We were wrong. When the carnage arrived, borders were closed, civil restrictions put in place, visitors restricted in health care settings, continuous masking was required, a Joint Statement negotiated, single-site orders, AFD payments, isolation measures, mental health concerns, N95 respirators locked up, overtime, burnout, short staffing, and the list goes on.

All you need to do is look around at your workplace to see the stress on your co-workers’ faces.

Conversations are different. Who’s talking about a winter vacation or summer holidays now? Who’s thinking about an upcoming wedding invitation? Instead we have restrictions on attending a funeral to say goodbye. Who thought we’d ever need an invitation to attend a funeral for a dear friend or family member?

COVID units are over capacity, nurses must hold up iPads so family members can say goodbye. Imagine the mental toll that takes on those nurses? Resilience is a word employers rely on and workers have come to hate.

Despite all this, the Alberta Government has launched attacks on the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It is reviewing the OHS Code and considering language that would gut Joint Workplace Health and Safety Committees, eviscerate the applicable rate of pay UNA won at arbitration, and change the rules to make it harder to refuse unsafe work.

Eliminating work refusals that save lives and protect workers’ health and safety are justified in the name of “job creators” who forget that people who work and spend their wages are the economic drivers of the economy. Labour for this government has become a dirty word.

2020, a year many would like to forget, but mustn’t!

As bad a year as 2020 has been, there are positive outcomes that will take us into the future.

Employers can no longer tell workers and their unions that policies can’t be changed quickly. We have seen OHS policy changed in a week, not three years.

Meetings are now held virtually. Zoom and Skype are normal. Business gets done but the value of sitting across the table and looking someone in the eye seems to have been lost. A handshake on a deal is gone for the moment. But we will get back.

Supply chain lines for PPE are now secured. PPE is now manufactured in Canada and Alberta, including quality face shields, medical masks, and N95 respirators. No manager should hesitate to supply any PPE, no worker should hesitate to ask. This includes N95 respirators, when they are needed to perform work safely.

Health care workers are now supposedly eligible to receive vaccinations. But some workers caring for COVID patients had to meet additional criteria to be vaccinated. What’s wrong with this picture?

We must never forget that governments come and go, even in Alberta. We, the workers of Alberta, will still be here to challenge inadequate legislation.

At the time of writing, six health care workers have died and more than 8,000 have tested positive for COVID-19.

We must remember that not all health care workers who become infected with COVID recover. Some become “long-haulers,” and that will be their life’s journey. They are the walking wounded. We don’t know what medical attention they will require or what their life needs will be.

This article is not just about COVID-19. Countless other injuries occurred that caused the deaths of those 150 workers in 2020. They went to work and ended up not going home. They likely went to the hospitals where you work, where you tried to give them another shot at life.

April 28 is the day we remember that we, working people, built this country. Working people have earned the right to safe workplaces, and unions to keep them safe. All working people deserve a safe workplace

Stay Healthy! Work Safe!

This year, I want to talk to you, not about you!

Dewey Funk, Occupational Health & safety Advisor, United Nurses of Alberta


Canada: CCOHS activities and resources for 28 April

Marked annually in Canada on April 28, the National Day of Mourning is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the job or due to a work-related tragedy.



The National Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to collectively renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.

How to support

Traditionally on April 28th the Canadian flag has flown at half-mast on Parliament Hill and on all federal government buildings. Employers and workers have observed Day of Mourning in a variety of ways over the years. Some have lit candles, laid wreaths, worn commemorative pins, ribbons or black armbands, and paused for a moment of silence.

In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we encourage organizations, communities, and individuals to consider holding or supporting a virtual event, or simply pause at 11:00 am on April 28 for a moment of silence. These acts of remembrance help to honour the lives lost or injured due to workplace tragedy, while also acknowledging the sacrifices of frontline and essential workers who have died or become ill serving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers and individuals can also show their support and commitment to a safe workplace by promoting the social media cards and messages provided by CCOHS at the bottom of this page. By sharing these messages, you are reminding more people to put health and safety at the forefront of their work and helping to prevent further work-related injuries and loss of life.

Beyond the statistics

The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2019, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada. 882 were male workers, and 43 were female workers. Among these deaths were 29 young workers aged 15-24.

Add to these fatalities the 271,806 accepted claims (an increase from 264,438 the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 33,615 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.

And it’s not just these numbers on which we need to reflect. With each worker tragedy there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – their lives also forever changed.


In 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress, the Parliament of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act making April 28 an official Day of Mourning. Today the Day of Mourning has since spread to more than 100 countries around the world and is recognized as Workers’ Memorial Day, and as International Workers’ Memorial Day by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

It is the hope of CCOHS that the annual observance of this day will help strengthen the resolve to establish safe and healthy conditions in the workplace, and prevent further injuries, illnesses, and deaths. As much as this is a day to remember the dead, it is also a call to protect the living and make work a place where people can thrive.

Source: Fatalities, by Age and Jurisdiction 2019, Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC),National Work Injury/Disease Statistics Program (NWISP)

Source: Lost Time Claims, by Age and Jurisdiction, 2019, Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC),National Work Injury/Disease Statistics Program (NWISP)

For further statistical information visit the AWCBC National Work Injuries Statistics Program.

Show your commitment on social media

Show your commitment by sharing the following messages on your social media channels.

Day of Mourning postcard with ducks

Day of Mourning postcard with ducks

Pause. Reflect. Remember.

At 11 a.m., I will honour workers who have died, were injured, or became ill from their job.

Day of Mourning postcard with dandelions and seeds

Day of Mourning postcard with dandelions and seeds

Pause. Reflect. Remember. Renew.

At 11 a.m., we will honour workers who have died, were injured, or became ill from their job, and will renew our commitment to health and safety in the workplace.

Day of Mourning postcard with candles

Day of Mourning postcard with candles

We remember workers who have died, were injured, or became ill from their job. We commit to protecting workers and preventing further workplace tragedies.

Day of Mourning postcard with worker wearing a mask

Day of Mourning postcard with worker wearing a mask

We honour the workers who have risked their health and safety to serve others, especially during these uncertain times.

More details


Canada: CLC-CTC – Day of Mourning Ceremonies 2021

Canadian national trade union body CLC-CTC  has published a comprehensive nationwide listing of activities planned to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.  More

Canada: USW District 3 Day of Mourning Telephone Town Hall | USW Canada

Every April 28, Steelworkers gather in communities across Canada to mark the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job. It’s one of the most important events in the year as we remember those we’ve lost and recommit ourselves to fighting for the health and safety of every worker.

Once again, due to COVID-19, we are unable to gather, but it is important that we still connect. That’s why you are invited to mark the Day of Mourning by joining our Telephone Town Hall for Steelworkers on April 28.

Let’s come together on the phone to mourn for the dead and fight for the living.

Join our Day of Mourning Telephone Town Hall for District 3 members on Wednesday, April 28 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific.

If the union has your current phone number on file, you will receive a recorded notice one day before the telephone town hall. If you do not receive the call, please fill out the registration form below. On the day of the event, all you have to do is answer the phone when we call you on the evening of Wednesday, April 28. You simply stay on the line to join the telephone town hall.


Canada: A message from CUPE National Officers on the Day of Mourning

A message from the National Officers on the Day of Mourning

On April 28, the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, we remember all the workers we have lost, and we vow to keep fighting for safe and healthy workplaces for everyone.

Watch a message from CUPE’s National Officers:

Every year in Canada, around 1,000 workers lose their lives on the job. Their deaths are preventable and should not happen. And each one is a tragedy.

Since the last Day of Mourning, CUPE has lost 14 members to workplace-related fatalities. 10 of these deaths were due to COVID-19.

“Our love and solidarity go out to the families, friends, and co-workers of those we have lost,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “A healthy and safe workplace is the right of each and every worker under the sun, and this is why we fight for the living.”

This is never an easy day. It is especially difficult this year because of the pandemic.

“We want to express our solidarity and support for all workers who are continuing to offer essential public services, despite the risks to their health and to that of their families,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury. “More than ever, this crisis highlights the need for us to stand together for safe working conditions.”

This April 28, and every day, CUPE will continue to fight – for better legislation, for better education, and for the vital personal protective equipment our members need.

Day of Mourning

Get up to date news and information


Canada: Cargill Covid-19 infections a 21st-Century Version of the Westray Explosion – USW Canada

Just a few weeks before the 28th anniversary of the Westray Mine explosion that killed 26 workers in the early hours of May 9, 1992, the United Steelworkers union (USW) says calls for a criminal investigation into the death and infection of workers at the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta., are justified.

“The events leading up to the death of a worker who died at Cargill this month are eerily similar to those leading up to the explosion of the Westray mine 28 years ago,” said USW Western Canada Director Steve Hunt.

“An inspector, despite recommended social distancing and safety warnings in the COVID-19 pandemic, declared the workplace safe not long before one worker died and hundreds more tested positive. At the Westray Mine in 1992, inspectors declared the mine safe, despite clear violations of safety protocols and a buildup of methane-producing coal dust.”

Hunt said the Cargill situation is as predictable as the mine explosion, with workers working in close proximity and little or no protective gear.

At the Westray Coal Mine in Pictou County, N.S, in 1992 the USW was in the process of organizing workers, whose primary concern was the safety of the mine.

“Workers were signing union cards because they knew the company was negligent and they feared for their lives,” Hunt said.

Hunt testified at the subsequent inquiry undertaken by Justice Peter Richard, whose conclusion was that the disaster was the result “of incompetence, of mismanagement, of bureaucratic bungling, of deceit, of ruthlessness, of cover-up, of apathy, of expediency, and of cynical indifference.”

The Inquiry ultimately led to the 2003 unanimous passage in the House of Commons of amendments to the Criminal Code. Called the Westray Law, the amendments are intended to hold corporations and their directors and executives criminally accountable for workplace death and injury. The USW has campaigned for many years for better enforcement of the Westray Law.

“Too often employers plead guilty to negligence in workplace death or injury in exchange for a fine. Killing workers should never be just a cost of doing business.  Cargill is no exception. This must be given a full investigation and, if warranted, result in criminal charges.”

Hunt said in 2020, deadly infection caused by COVID-19 is as much of a workplace hazard as any so-called “accident” involving heavy equipment, poor safety protocols or control.

“We are now living in an era with added risk to workers,” he said. “The Westray Law must apply in this case, and be investigated through a criminal lens.”


For further information:

Stephen Hunt, 604-816-2554, shunt@usw.ca


Canada: Day of Mourning action call by CUPE

National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job

On April 28, the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, we remember all the workers we have lost. On this day, CUPE also joins with the Canadian Labour Congress and other unions around the county to demand that all governments enforce the laws, including Westray provisions in the Criminal Code and occupational health and safety laws.

We urge CUPE members to observe a moment of silence and lower flags to half-mast on Tuesday, April 28. Show your support by prominently displaying our poster at your workplace.

Every day in Canada, workers lose their lives on the job. Their deaths are preventable and should not happen. It boggles the mind that we lose almost 1000 workers every year.

In 2017, the most recent year that full statistics are available, the officially recorded number of workplace fatalities rose to at least 951. As with every year, we say “at least” because we, in the labour movement, have always known that the number is higher.

Last year, a new report called Work-Related Death in Canada has attempted to quantify the number of workers lost who are usually uncounted. These are people who are not in the compensation system, or are self-employed, or work “off the grid” in precarious work. Or they are considered to have had a “natural” death, or were commuting to and from work, or who died from an occupational disease or cancer that was never related back to their working conditions.

If we include all the uncounted, the research suggests that there may be 10-13 times as many people dying because of work in Canada than we officially accept in our compensation system.  But while there may be no insurance payment for those left behind, their loved ones are gone just the same.

We implore governments and employers to invest in prevention, including strong health and safety committees. We call for a robust enforcement regime to enhance prevention through pro-active inspections, and to punish those employers who refuse to fulfill their duty to ensure a safe workplace. We also call on the federal government to reinstate the definition of danger that existed in the Canada Labour Code before Stephen Harper weakened it without consultation in 2014.

Day of Mourning poster

Day of Mourning flag **New Design!**


Canada: Janitors’ union ‘invisible to essential’ campaign

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2 in Canada has launched an ‘Invisible to Essential’ campaign, calling on property owners, managers and cleaning contractors to work together to make immediate improvements to cleaner’s working conditions. SEIU Local 2 represents more than 10,000 janitors across Canada.

The campaign demands include an immediate Can$2 per hour raise; keeping cleaners employed during the crisis; and ensuring all cleaners are working safely with the required training and Personal Protect Equipment (PPE).

Local 2 represents janitors in  the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.

More information can be accessed at: www.justiceforjanitors.ca/campaigns/from-invisible-to-essential/SEIU

Canada: This national Day of Mourning, Tell your story – CLC

April 28th marks the National Day of Mourning, to recognise the hundreds of workers who lose their lives or have their lives changed forever because of something that happened in their workplace.

The vigils we hold this year to commemorate these workers will be virtual – yet another way COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work.

Tell your story and what this day means to you right now.


Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living

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