April 28 is National Day of Mourning

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We remember workers who have died, were injured, or became ill from their job

We commit to protecting workers and preventing further workplace tragedies.

By Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Marked annually in Canada on Apr. 28, the National Day of Mourning is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, suffered injury or illness on the job, or experienced a work-related tragedy.

Each year on Apr. 28 employers and workers observe National Day of Mourning by lighting candles, laying wreaths, wearing commemorative pins, ribbons or black armbands, and pausing for a moment of silence at 11 a.m. to honour those who have died or suffered injury or illness due to a work-related tragedy.

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The Canadian Labour Congress first declared the Day in 1986. More than 100 countries now observe the day with unions, labour councils, families and community partners who gather annually on April 28 to mourn these losses also vow to prevent further suffering. They follow with action in the workplace and community pressing for work that promotes dignity and health.

Helmets to Hardhats pays tribute to Canadian workers injured or killed on the job

According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), in 2021, there were 1,081 workplace fatalities recorded in Canada, 1,009 of which were male workers, and 72 were female workers. Among these deaths were 18 young workers aged 15-24.

Add to these fatalities the 277,217 accepted claims (an increase of 23,820 from the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 34,548 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.

For family of worker killed on construction project, April 28 is a poignant reminder

In 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress, the Parliament of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act making April 28 an official Day of Mourning.

Today the Day of Mourning has since spread to more than 100 countries around the world and is recognized as Workers’ Memorial Day, and as International Workers’ Memorial Day by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The Workers Health and Safety Centre highlights the following ways to support workers:

On April 28, individuals could:

  • attend a Day of Mourning event in your community
  • encourage others to attend an event
  • draft a message for your organization’s publication or web site
  • use digital tools to create online communities, posting meaningful photos and messages
  • update your health and safety knowledge through training and webinars
  • work with local media to promote and cover the Day’s significance and events
  • convince employers and public institutions to among other things lower flags to half-mast
  • work with other interested groups to host related events.

On every day;

  • educate others about health and safety rights, responsibilities and prevention measures
  • insist on effective workplace prevention programs developed with full worker participation
  • insist on training that supports the identification, assessment and control of workplace hazards
  • encourage local media to report on health, safety and environmental issues
  • press elected officials to support stronger regulations and better enforcement of existing laws
  • create monuments to promote public awareness of workplace health and safety
  • host events with similar objectives in mind.

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