OHS Canada Magazine

Pausing to remember: Marking the National Day of Mourning

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April 26, 2024
By Todd Humber

Health & Safety

On April 28, workplaces will come together to commemorate the National Day of Mourning, a day dedicated to honoring workers who have lost their lives, have been injured, or suffered an illness due to their work.

Every year, thousands of workers in Canada are injured or killed on the job. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), in 2022, there were 993 workplace fatalities recorded in Canada, 33 of which were young workers aged 15-24.

Additionally, 348,747 accepted claims were reported for lost time due to work-related injuries or diseases. These statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards. It is predicted that the total number of workers affected is even greater.

“The National Day of Mourning is an opportunity to create awareness about workplace safety and reminds us to renew our commitment to ensure every worker goes home safe and healthy at the end of the workday,” said Anne Tennier, president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).


Saskatchewan lowering flags

Since 1984, Canada has observed April 28 as the National Day of Mourning. In Saskatchewan, the government announced that flags at all government buildings will fly at half-mast in remembrance of those who died because of workplace injuries and illnesses.

In 2023, 29 fatality claims were accepted by the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board, it said.

“Every worker has the right to return home safely at the end of the workday,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don McMorris said. “Today we take time to mourn and reflect on how we can build healthier and safer workplaces.”

In 2023, WorkSafe Saskatchewan, a partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, released the 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy as a way to help prevent and reduce serious workplace injuries and fatalities.

“One fatality is one too many,” Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board Chairperson Gord Dobrowolsky said. “That’s why through the 2023-28 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy we are working together with employers and employees to prevent injuries and fatalities.”

Manitoba marks day

In 2023, 22 workers died due to work-related causes, according to the government of Manitoba — which also announced plans to lower flags to half mast.

“Each year, it is important to take a moment and reflect on the Manitobans who died from injuries and illnesses that they suffered at work last year,” said Malaya Marcelino, Manitoba’s Minister of Labour and Immigration. ” Manitobans deserve to feel safe on the job and their loved ones should be able to count on their safe return home. Our government wants Manitobans to know that we have their backs at work and we are committed to making workplaces safer for everyone.”

“Educating Manitobans about workplace safety and health is a priority for the WCB,” adds Catherine Skinner, Acting President and CEO of WCB. “Safety knowledge is the first step in preventing workplace injuries and illnesses and getting Manitobans home safe each day.”

Safe Workers of Tomorrow will hold their annual Leaders’ Walk on April 26 to honour those who have died due to workplace injuries or illnesses. The not-for-profit organization, which educates high school students about workplace safety, has held the annual walk for more than 25 years. The walk will start at Union Centre on Broadway and Smith Street at 11:30 a.m. and proceed down Broadway to Memorial Park. At noon, a ceremony will be held at the Manitoba Workers Memorial located at the park.

“We organize the Leaders’ Walk each year as a way to bring the community together to commemorate those whose lives were lost to workplace tragedies,” said Peter Reimer, Executive Director of Safe Workers of Tomorrow. “We know the effect of these losses is devastating and that each of these Manitobans is missed dearly by family, friends and coworkers.”

The theme of this year’s Walk is Violence in the Workplace.


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