Over the last 10 years for which statistics are available, an average of 952 people have been killed each year because of something that happened to them at work. In some years, the death toll has been well over 1,000.
Ottawa (14 Jan. 2019) — A recent paper by academics at the University of Ottawa, and published in the Journal of Canadian Labour Studies, suggests that the number of work-related deaths in Canada may be more than 10 times higher than the official figures. The CBC reported that the paper, "Work-Related Deaths in Canada," estimates that as many as 10,000 to 13,000 people a year may be dying due to work-related injuries or diseases.
Workers’ compensation boards reporting an average of 952 deaths a year
The official figures from the Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada are bad enough. Over the last 10 years for which statistics are available, an average of 952 people have been killed each year because of something that happened to them at work. In some years, the death toll has been well over 1,000.
But this figure only includes claims approved by workers’ compensation boards. As the paper points out, a significant number of workers are not covered by workers compensation. There are also many deaths and injuries that have not been recognized as work-related.
NUPGE members aware of limitations of current definitions of what is work-related
Members of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) are all too aware of the gaps in what workers’ compensation boards are allowed to count as work-related. One example is PTSD: even though PTSD among first responders and correctional officers was very likely to be work-related, workers’ compensation boards were still required to force people in those occupations who were suffering from PTSD to produce evidence. It is taking a lot of work by NUPGE Components and other unions to get rules and regulations governing workers’ compensation boards changed to ensure there is presumption that is, when a correctional officer or first responder develops PTSD, it is considered work related.
The paper suggests expanding the definition of a work-related death to include things like deaths due to collisions when workers are driving after long shifts, or forced to come to work when weather has made driving dangerous. That will be controversial, but for those whose priority is making sure workers get home safely from work it could be a major step forward.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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