Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job
April 28 is the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job. Traditionally on this day, all over the world, public ceremonies are held at 11 a.m. to mourn these workers, and those suffering from occupational disease.
This will be the second year in a row that Day of Mourning will take place in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the current circumstances means that we will once again have to make this occasion without being in the physical presence of others. Despite that, April 28 continues to be an important opportunity for workers and employers to remember the dead, but critical for all of us to express our continued commitment to protecting workers and preventing further tragedies, and making every workplace safe and healthy for everyone.
No one should ever have to go to work and not be able to safely return home. Sadly, throughout this past year as we have seen daily death tolls being reported as a result of COVID-19, we know that many likely have become violently ill or succumbed to this terrible virus because of contracting COVID-19 in their workplaces.
In 2020, 151 B.C. workers died from a workplace injury or disease. There were 63 fatalities due to traumatic injury and 88 fatalities due to occupational disease. Many more work-related deaths aren’t counted by our workers’ compensation system, and likely many COVID-19 related deaths aren’t included in those totals as well. We have also seen an increase in instances of violence in the workplace, particularly against racialized workers, and this has contributed to the deterioration of overall health and safety in the workplace, including mental health.
Once again this year, Day of Mourning ceremonies will take place virtually. A virtual ceremony will be held start at 10:30 a.m. PT on April 28 at dayofmourning.bc.ca. We encourage everybody to join if they can. If you are unable to participate, please consider observing a moment of silence at 11 a.m. on April 28.
Please join your fellow union members at an event in your community as we remember those we have lost and continue to fight to ensure that no one is forced to risk injury, illness, or death as a result of going to work. Visit dayofmourning.bc.ca for more information and to find other resources.
In addition to continuing the promote traditional health and safety measures in our workplaces and holding employers accountable, we can also do our part in support safe workplaces by supporting campaigns in support of paid sick leave and other related campaigns such as universal pharmacare to ensure everybody can get the medication they need with a health care and not a credit card. You can learn more about these campaigns at futureforall.ca/sick_leave or pharmacare.canadianlabour.ca.
Join us to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives on the job and to bring awareness to workplace safety on April 28.
David Black, MoveUP President
Rysa Kronebusch, MoveUP Vice-President and Chair, Health & Safety Committee