The numbers are staggering. In 2010, more than 1,014 people died in Canada as a result of work-related accidents or illnesses; an increase from 939 the previous year.
This means that, on average, almost three workers are killed every working day. Close to 350,000 others were injured seriously to the extent that it prevented them from reporting to work for at least one day. It is estimated that nearly one million work-related injuries and illnesses are reported each year in Canada.
In the eighteen year period from 1993 to 2010, 16,143 people lost their lives due to work-related causes (an average of 897 deaths per year).
Work-related accidents are very expensive. The total of compensation paid to work accident victims or their families and of other economic costs of work-related injuries each year is estimated at more than $12 billion. These figures do not take into account the pain and suffering of the victims and their families, which are incalculable.
The National Day of Mourning focuses our attention on these tragic statistics and reminds us that there is more work to be done in the area of workplace health and safety.
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting a healthy, safe, and productive work environment for all Canadians. The Labour Program of Human Resources and Skills Development are responsible for developing, administering, and enforcing legislation and regulations, including the Canada Labour Code. The Code applies to federally regulated workplaces, and one of its primary goals is to prevent accidents and injuries that could adversely affect employees’ health. The Health and Safety Officers of the Labour Program conduct workplace inspections and safety audits, respond to employee complaints, and investigate hazards. They also work with the policy and workplace health and safety committees to help resolve health and safety issues in the workplace.
The National Day of Mourning is an annual day of remembrance for workers who have been killed or injured on the job in Canada. The aim of this day is to publicly renew the commitment to fight for the safety of the living, as well as mourn for those workers who have died.
On December 28th, 1990, the government passed the Workers Mourning Day Act, which established an official day observed every year to commemorate workers injured on the job, killed, disabled, or who suffer from occupational illnesses. This day is also intended to show Canadians’ concern for occupational health and safety. April 28 was chosen for this observance, since the first comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Act was passed in the province of Ontario. The Day of Mourning has since spread to about 80 countries around the world and has been adopted by the AFL-CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade.
The Canadian flag on Parliament Hill will fly at half-mast. Workers will light candles, don ribbons and black armbands and observe moments of silence. Businesses are asked to participate by declaring April 28 a Day of Mourning and to strive to prevent workplace deaths, illnesses and injuries.
Since the first National Day of Mourning, there have been many improvements made to occupational health and safety legislation. However, the statistics show that there is more work to be done.
The Government of Canada is committed to continually improving the work environment of Canadians, and responding to the ever changing needs of Canadian workers.
Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Labour have pledged to work together towards fostering safe and healthy workplaces.
Recent amendments pertaining to Part II of the Canada Labour Code, include requirements specific to hazard identification, assessment, and education of employees. These new Hazard Prevention Program Regulations are a step to improving employee safety and health.