Ontario’s labour movement is devastated by the passing of Barry Fowlie. Barry was a long-time health and safety and workers’ compensation advocate. Most recently, he served as Director on the Workers United Canada Council. His passion and activism will be profoundly missed. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) extends our condolences to Barry’s family, friends, and coworkers.
Barry approached everything he did with heart and passion. His dedication to justice for working people was evident in all his work from his time as an executive member of the Guelph & District Labour Council to his advocacy with Workers United. In the 1990’s Barry began taking courses through the OFL’s Workers Compensation Training Project (now Prevention Link), where he was a keen learner who did everything he could to represent his members well. He went on to become an incredible health and safety and workers’ compensation instructor. Barry was also a former member of the OFL Executive Board. Barry’s dedication to keeping workers safe and his belief in workers’ power was evident in all his work.
Janice Folk-Dawson, OFL Executive Vice-President, called Barry a working-class hero, she said, “the work that he did around health and safety was done with deep care and understanding about the topic.” Barry was an injured worker who lived with three permanent impairments. But Folk-Dawson says that was not necessarily the part you knew about Barry, “what came through when he educated workers about health and safety was his passion for keeping people safe at work.”
Barry also loved music and poetry. His emails often included a poem or YouTube link about the struggles of working people, and he had an ever-changing email signature that featured a new quote or line about the power of working people. Barry felt passionately that arts and culture was an important part of the working class and the labour movement. He loved the stories and poems that came from the movement.
In addition to being an advocate, Barry nurtured others to find their voice as working-class heroes. He will be deeply missed. In honour of Barry’s passion for arts and culture and his advocacy for injured workers, his family is encouraging donations to the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups.