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April 27, 2020

On the National Day of Mourning we remember workers killed on the job, or who have suffered occupational injury, illness or disease. This year, the Day of Mourning has a particular resonance as we remember the workers who have recently died of COVID-19, and in the line of duty protecting communities in Nova Scotia. 

In mourning these deaths, we also recognize and honour the front-line workers who are risking their health and their lives to keep Ontario communities safe, healthy and nourished during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The labour movement will continue to demand safe and healthy workplaces: the personal protective equipment workers need, proactive health and safety inspections, access to workers’ compensation. No worker should be killed on the job by COVID-19, violence, or because of lax safety standards,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. “Today we mourn together, and voice our demands for better protections for all Ontario workers.”

“Our province faces a shortage of vital personal protective equipment for front-line workers. The working people of this province demand action from their government to strengthen the laws that will preserve the health and well-being of all workers. We call on the Ford government to use their powers to direct the manufacture of much needed protective equipment right here in Ontario. We demand every employer take heed of their legal responsibility to protect their workers”, said Coates.  

“The OFL mourns for the workers we have lost and that have been injured, today we mourn together with their families, coworkers, and communities,” said Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Ahmad Gaied. “We call on governments to step up to ensure that no worker is killed because of insufficient safety standards or laws that leave them unprotected.”

In 2019, there were 190 workplace fatalities in Ontario, and more since the COVID-19 crisis began in Canada. The Ontario Federation of Labour has called on Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton to ensure that the Ministry takes all measures to assure the protection of the workers of this province.

“Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work,” said OFL Executive Vice-President Janice Folk-Dawson. “Labour stands together in our demand that all work refusals, including those that arise due to COVID-19 are investigated and that the Occupational Health and Safety Act be enforced to the fullest extent of the law. Ontario must do all it can to guarantee safe and healthy workplaces for every worker in the province.”

The OFL’s enduring theme for April 28 is “Mourn for the Dead. Fight for the Living.” 

Workers know what they need to be safe and can mark a victory following the federal government’s action on recommendations to order the shuttered GM plant in Oshawa be retooled to produce PPE. The labour movement continues campaigns to push for criminal investigations into worker injuries and deaths, demanding that criminal charges are laid when it is appropriate.

This April 28, the OFL joins the Canadian Labour Congress in calling on provincial and federal governments to make the changes that will improve workplace health and safety across Ontario and Canada.

In order to respect the directive against gathering in groups, the OFL invites all Ontarians to join in an online ceremony to remember the workers who have been killed on the job. Please join the Ontario Federation of Labour, Ontario Labour Councils, and Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition, online for a moment of silence. [link to video]

The OFL Power of Many is a campaign by the Ontario Federation of Labour and its allies in communities across Ontario, working together to protect and win decent work laws, strong public services, along with equality and justice, as well as safe and healthy workplaces and communities for all.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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Join an online ceremony from the Ontario Federation of Labour, Ontario’s Labour Councils, and the Ontario NDP as we mourn for the dead and fight for the living.

For more information, please contact:

Meagan Perry
Communications Director
Ontario Federation of Labour
mperry@ofl.ca | 416-894-3456

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