Bill 180, Workers Day of Mourning Act, 2016 introduced by Percy Hatfield (MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh) and supported by all parties passed second reading April 7 (with a standing ovation) and is now waiting to be considered by the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly. Although the Assembly recognized back in 1988 April 28th as a Day of Mourning to remember workers injured, killed or suffering disease on the job, the bill calls for all municipalities, hospitals and educational institutions to lower their flags:
The lowered flag is a powerful symbol of our respect for the day of mourning, our shared loss and our commitment to workers’ safety. It shows we care, and it demonstrates that we care for their surviving family members as well. Lowering the flag is a sign of dignity, a symbol of respect and a call for justice.”
The legislation aims to increase awareness, especially among the young, of Workers’ Day of Mourning and remind employers that they have to do more to train their employees and provide a safe place to work.
A critical issue
Noting that almost 200,000 new claims are opened at the WSIB each year, the Member called on the Board to treat injured workers with dignity, respect and justice. He highlighted health and safety as a critical issue, with Ministry of Labour inspectors issuing over 131,000 orders for non-compliance last year and fines totalling $9,365,870 levied in 2015.
“Fatalities in the construction industry alone account for an average of 20 workers every year in Ontario… How do we get workplace safety to be more of a priority? Well, for one thing, we make the Workers Day of Mourning more of a priority.” Acknowledging the men and women who hold the annual ceremonies in their communities (such as Rolly Marentette and Tracie Edwards in Windsor for the district labour council), the MPP expressed the hope his bill would make more people aware of the enormity of the injuries and the deaths workers face every day on the job.
A petition “to support the workers of Ontario with swift passage of Bill 180, Workers Day of Mourning Act, 2016 that would require all publicly funded provincial and municipal buildings to lower their Canadian and Ontario flags on April 28th each year” can be downloaded for printing.