OFL Statement on the 2017 Day of Mourning | The Ontario Federation of Labour

OFL Statement on the 2017 Day of Mourning

On April 28, thousands of workers, friends and families of those killed and injured on the job are gathering at ceremonies across Ontario to commemorate the labour movement’s most solemn occasion, the annual Day of Mourning. They are hearing speakers repeat our motto:

“Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living”

On this day, we remember and pay tribute to workers who die each year due to workplace causes. While we mourn the dead, we all must dedicate themselves to fight for the living.

This year, we also remember the 26 miners who were killed in the Westray mine explosion.

May 9th will be the 25th anniversary of that disaster.

This disaster resulted in changes to the Criminal Code through Bill C-45 also known as the Westray Bill. These changes can hold employers who are criminally negligent, accountable for killing and maiming workers.

In the 13 years since the changes came into effect there has been just four convictions. Two were in Ontario against Metron Construction and the project manager whose negligence resulted in the deaths of four workers and a fifth severely disabled.

Every worker who is killed at work deserves to have their death investigated through the lens of C-45. Their family deserves to know the police have done more than rule out foul play, that they have looked at negligence by the employer as a possible cause.

Only when CEO’s start going to jail for killing and maiming workers will we see deaths and injuries in our workplaces come to an end.

“The importance of regulations to protect workers cannot be overestimated,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “The Day of Mourning is a day for all of us to remember the workers who are killed on the job and commit to ensuring that worker deaths are prevented in all industries.”

The OFL’s seven-year campaign, “Kill a Worker, Go to Jail,” continues to draw attention to workplace deaths by contacting law enforcement when workers are killed on the job, and providing information about Bill C-45, which became law on March 31, 2004, establishing new legal duties for workplace health and safety, and imposing serious penalties for violations that result in injuries or death.