April 28 is the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed and Injured on the Job. Flags are flown at half mast and memorials are held in many locations across Canada.
The Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council asks that all workers, both union and non-union, take a moment today to remember the 1000 Canadian workers who die every year and the countless others who are injured or become ill as a result of unsafe workplaces.
The number of people killed at work each year in Canada has risen for the past 15 years. This is in contrast to almost every other first-world country where the incidence of workplace fatalities is declining. In 2007, according to the latest report from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 1,055 people lost their lives at work. That’s four people every work day.
Shockingly, in 2008 there were 42 WorkSafeBC claims for child workers under the age of 15. Our Labour Council, and the labour movement as a whole, continues to oppose child labour. We are horrified that children are sustaining serious workplace accidents and we demand that the B.C. government change the laws that allow this to continue.
The number and rate of workplace fatalities in Canada, even from accidents, is unacceptably high. We have failed to make progress in reducing the number and rate of workplace deaths. In many jurisdictions across Canada, the monitoring of labour and safety standards has been drastically cut back, or even replaced by “voluntary” industry compliance.
It’s time for the provinces and territories to appoint special prosecutors to lay charges against employers when their actions cause death or serious injury.
More inspectors must be hired to ensure employers comply with the law. It’s also time for all governments to enact new regulations that deal with known dangers in today’s workplaces, including workplace violence, exposure to toxins and carcinogens, repetitive stress injuries and injuries caused by poor ergonomics, workplace harassment and stress. Any workplace death or injury is preventable.
On April 28, please join us in remembering those who went to work and never came home. And please join us in demanding changes to laws and regulations that continue to put the safety of workers of all ages at risk.
Campbell River Courtenay and District Labour Council