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Day of Mourning services set for April 28

April 28 is the National Day of Mourning, a day to commemorate those who have died or been injured as a result of their job. This year’s theme “Safe work now!” is a call to action for workers, decision-makers, and employers to take immediate and concrete steps to keep people safe at work.

“Too many workers are still getting injured, falling ill or dying as a result of their job,” said Baker president of the North Central Labour Council. “Work should be getting safer, but the numbers show that’s not happening. One workplace death is already unacceptable. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries and illnesses per year is unconscionable. Workers have a right to a job that doesn’t make them sick and work that gets them home safe to their loved ones every day.  Employers and governments must invest in prevention. Workers will not stand by while employers cut corners on health and safety to save a few dollars. It is essential that governments commit to and resource robust enforcement of health and safety regulations. The Westray Law must be properly enforced so that negligent employers are held criminally accountable. A worker’s life is worth more than some paltry fine, and we will not accept that the loss of life of even one person is just the cost of doing business.”

Here in British Columbia 181 workers were killed at work in 2022, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Across Canada, there were 993 accepted workplace fatalities and 348,747 accepted lost time claims, marking a sharp rise in cases from the previous year.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Westray Law, named for the 26 workers in Plymouth, Nova Scotia who lost their lives in the 1996 Westray Mine explosion. Following this disaster, Canada’s unions – led by the United Steelworkers – lobbied for change, so that employers could be convicted of criminal negligence. In 2004, the Westray sections of the Criminal Code of Canada were brought into effect, allowing corporations to be held criminally liable for workplace deaths and injuries.

However, since its inception, only a handful of criminal charges have been laid, due to inconsistent and insufficient enforcement of the law. Most of these cases resulted in fines, which major corporations can easily pay. When criminal negligence leads to a death, people need to go to jail. Political leaders also still defer to business interests by weakening health and safety legislation, both provincially and federally.

“Decision makers continue to put workers’ safety and well-being at risk by prioritizing business interests. Lives are at stake and we can’t keep waiting: our governments have a responsibility to do everything in their power to ensure workers’ safety. We cannot allow employers’ bottom lines to dictate Canada’s health and safety agenda. The Westray Law must be enforced as it was intended, and employers must be made to comply and keep workers safe,”.


What:             Day of Mourning ceremony
Where:          Connaught Park – Workers’ Memorial Statue – 1112 Connaught Dr, (Corner Patricia Blvd and Queensway Ave), Prince George
When:            Sunday, April 28 at 10:30 am to 12:00 pm

Who:              Labour Leader Tarry


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