At the 1984 Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress, a resolution was adopted declaring April 28 as a National Day of Mourning to honour those workers in Canada who have been killed, injured or disabled on the job, or who suffer from occupational diseases. April 28 was chosen because on that day in 1914, Ontario proclaimed the first comprehensive Workers Compensation Act in Canada. The Canadian Labour Movement lobbied for legislation to identify April 28 as a “National Day of Mourning.” Their efforts were rewarded in February 1991, when the Federal Parliament passed the Workers Mourning Day Act (Bill C-223).
It is the aim of OSSTF/FEESO 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 and deaths. As much as this is a day to remember those who have passed, it is also a day to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.
Every day we should educate others about health and safety rights, insist on effective workplace prevention programs, and require that we receive hands-on training by the employer that supports the identification, assessment and control of workplace hazards.
The theme for this year’s Day of Mourning is “One Too Many: No One Should Die on the Job”. Recent Canadian research has shown that the workers compensation data on workplace fatalities does not tell the whole story. The real rate of fatalities could be as much as 13 times higher than official data indicates.
On April 28, attend a Day of Mourning event in your community; ensure that flags are lowered to half-mast; and above all, take a moment at 11:00 a.m. to remember those who have been injured on the job and those who lost their lives.