Make health and safety protection a priority, NUPGE urges | National Union of Public and General Employees

Make health and safety protection a priority, NUPGE urges

April 28 is National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job


Ottawa (25 April 2006) - The 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees is calling on the new Conservative government to mark April 28, the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job, by making workers' rights, including health and safety, a priority.

"The statistics are absolutely appalling," says James Clancy, NUPGE's national president. "Far more workers die on the job in Canada every year than are killed from crime but the new Harper government has completely ignored the need for workers' rights legislation."

More than 900 workers, according to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, die on the job in Canada each year. More than a million more are injured.

"The need for tougher health and safety laws and regulations is urgent and experience has shown that such initiatives have a dramatic impact on the safety of workers," Clancy says.

Safety laws work!

"This is maddeningly obvious," he adds. "In places where workers have protection - unions, health and safety legislation and workers' rights - we see fewer people die in workplace accidents."

Yet the new Conservative government continues to ignore workers' rights issues.

"The Harper government should act to see that new federal regulations for Health and Safety are adopted and implemented," said Clancy. "It could also use its influence with the provinces to see a greater priority placed on the issue in all Canadian jurisdictions."

But Clancy notes that "Stephen Harper was the only federal leader not to sign the National Union's Workers' Bill of Rights during the recent federal election. I think that speaks volumes about where his priorities are on these matters. This is a national crisis and governments have to take action."

NUPGE demands action

Clancy says the national toll in Canadian workplaces does not even represent the full picture. Because of underreporting and unrecorded deaths caused by work-related injuries, the true numbers are clearly higher, he argues.

"Between 1993 and 2006, more than 12,000 people have died in workplace accidents in Canada - with at least one million more workers each year injured.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), which represents three million workers, has chosen "Organizing for Healthier and Safer Workplaces" as the theme for this year's Day of Mourning.

"Safe and Healthy workplaces, one would think, would be the order of the day. However, we know all too well that if this were true, we would not see the increasing injuries and deaths due to workplace causes," the CLC says.

The National Day of Mourning was inaugurated by the CLC in 1984. It has since grown to be a day of global commemoration for on-the-job victims and an international appeal for action by governments everywhere to create safer workplaces through stronger health and safety laws and regulation. NUPGE

Day of Mourning Ceremonies from Coast to Coast