National Day of Mourning

April 28, 2017

April 28th is a very important day. It is the day we commemorate workers whose lives have been lost or injured in the workplace. This National Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28, was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, though its beginning was launched eight years earlier by the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Day of Mourning is now recognized in approximately 80 countries around the world. As is the custom on all National Days of Mourning, the Canadian Flag on Parliament Hill will fly at half-mast. Throughout the country, workers will light candles, don ribbons and black armbands and observe moments of silence.

Please participate and strive throughout the year to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.

The numbers tell the story. In 2013, 902* workplace deaths were recorded in Canada. While it’s the lowest total since 2000 when 882 fatalities were recorded, this number still represents 2.47 deaths every single day.

In the 21 year period from 1993 to 2013, 18,941* people lost their lives due to work-related causes (an average of 902 deaths per year).

Every day workers leave their home and their family expecting to see them later that same day. They do not leave home expecting to die.

The international symbol for Health and Safety is “THE CANARY IN THE CAGE” and people have asked what that represents. In the 19th century, miners would take a caged canary into the mines with them. Canaries are more sensitive to airborne hazards and the absence of oxygen than people. If the canaries were overcome by hazards, it was a sign to evacuate the mine fast.

Unfortunately, as the numbers indicate, humans have now become the canaries in the workplace and we must recognize that when every single day in Canada almost three people die at work. Something must be done. Remember the slogan:

Mourn The Dead, Fight For The Living

It is as much a day to remember the dead as it is a call to protect the living.

It’s your life. Don't leave work without it.

Doug Gaetz
Chair, Health and Safety Committee

*Fatalities accepted in 2013 according to "Number of Fatalities, by Jurisdiction 1993-2013" summary table, statistics from the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada

Annual average according to "Number of Fatalities, by Jurisdiction 1993-2013" summary table, statistics from the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada