“On April 28, we join with our sisters and brothers and neighbours and friends in mourning for those who have lost their lives through workplace-related events. Then, we once again roll up our sleeves and fight to protect the health and safety of the living.” — James Clancy, NUPGE National President
Ottawa (28 April 2016) — On April 28, Canadians will be recognizing the 25th anniversary of the National Day of Mourning for workers injured or killed on the job. Since it’s proclamation in 1991 by Parliament, the Day of Mourning "has since spread to about 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)."
While awareness of the Day or Mourning may have expanded, unfortunately that is pretty much all that has improved in those 25 years.
Workers dying from work-related exposure to deadly substances
According to James Clancy, National President of the 360,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), “The rate at which workers are killed or injured on the job in Canada remains shockingly high. The number of those who die from workplace-related exposure to deadly substances is a national tragedy.”
It is for this reason that NUPGE is joining with other unions in the Canadian Labour Congress in calling for a national ban on asbestos and products made from asbestos. Read National President Clancy's letter to the Minister of Science and the Minister of Labour.
Asbestos remains a killer
Clancy explains that “exposure to asbestos kills more than 2,000 people every year in Canada. People exposed to asbestos die from horrible diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.”
Asbestos-related diseases are the number-one cause of occupational death in Canada. According to the Canadian Labour Congress, “Since 1996, asbestos-related diseases have accounted for about a third of the workplace deaths recognized by workers’ compensation boards.”
It is time for a ban on asbestos
Remarkably, despite the danger, products that contain asbestos are still imported into Canada. Furthermore, there isn’t a formal registry of buildings known to contain asbestos which increases the risk that workers and the public will be exposed. New infrastructure spending by governments highlight the urgency of instituting a ban on asbestos to ensure that those work projects are asbestos-free.
Clancy notes that “unions have always been about protecting the health and safety of our members and the public —whether it be from a hazardous material like asbestos, workplace violence or mental injury on the job. We will continue to work on these issues."
“On April 28, we join with our sisters and brothers and neighbours and friends in mourning for those who have lost their lives through workplace-related events. Then, we once again roll up our sleeves and fight to protect the health and safety of the living.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE