On April 28 we gather to remember workers killed, suffer disease or injury on the job in Canada. First held in 1984 by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), it was adopted officially by the Canadian Labour Congress.
In Dec. 1990 the Federal Government passed the Workers Mourning Day Act declaring April 28 a national Day of Mourning. The Day has since been adopted – often known as Workers Memorial Day – by approximately 100 countries around the world.
The latest statistics (2016) from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) record that 904 workers in Canada died from work-related accidents or disease (up from 852 in 2015). In Ontario alone, 289 workers died. Unfortunately, the true numbers are much higher. These statistics include only those whose claims are accepted that year as fatality by the Boards, and those whose industry, occupation and type of injury/disease are covered (in Ontario only 76%). Many deaths from occupational exposures, especially diseases with long latency periods such as mesothelioma, go under-recognized and underestimated. As recently highlighted by the OFL, changes in the method of reporting also have underestimated actual fatalities.
It is a day when workers commemorate those who have died – and recognize the lasting impact on their families and communities. Day of Mourning also strengthens their commitment to health and safety protection and coverage for all workers. This message is carried in the inscription on many of the labour monuments marking April 28: “Fight for the Living, Mourn for the Dead”.
ONIWG VP Peter Page speaks at Woodbridge Day of Mourning 2017
- Wigmore, Dorothy. 2017 Apr. 28. “The History Behind Canada’s National Day of Mourning.” RankandFile.ca
- Ontario. Ministry of Labour. 2017 Mar. Occupational Health & Safety in Ontario Annual Report: Appendix A: Statistical Charts (2006-2015)
- Workers’ Health & Safety Centre. 2017. Day of Mourning ( include an annual list of provincial events and Worker Memorials in Ontario communities
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. National Day of Mourning – April 28
- 28april.org: Remember the dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living – international Workers’ Memorial Day
- Page, Peter. 2015 Summer. “The Big Book of Injured Workers: a Diary”. Our Times (An injured worker’s personal account of the Woodbridge Day of Mourning event)
- Ontario Federation of Labour. 2015. OFL Demands to Know Why the WSIB is Covering Up 1,150 Deaths