April 28: Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job

Every year on April 28, we pause to recognize workers who have been killed or injured on the job. The Day of Mourning, created by CUPE members and first observed in 1984, is recognized by workers in communities across Canada and in more than 100 countries worldwide.

No one should die because of their work, yet in Ontario a worker dies almost every day because of workplace hazards and incidents. Worker’s deaths are tragedies not only for their families, but for the people they work with and for their communities. On this day, we stand in solidarity with workers around the world and share with each other a collective sense of loss.

No worker should ever be killed or injured because of work, yet it happens on a regular basis. In our current climate of precarious work, it is happening more frequently.

When workers do not have guaranteed work, or don’t get enough hours, or earn too little to survive, they are much less likely to speak up about unsafe working conditions. Employers know this. In the precarious workplace, all too often there is scant attention given to health and safety standards.

Privatization of services also causes workplace injuries and death, as companies — with no public oversight — cut corners to squeeze more profit out of services that should not be generating profit.

Understaffing also causes injuries and deaths, as workers are required to do work previously assigned to two or more workers.

Injury and death on the job are not merely “accidents” or “tragedies” that just happen. All too often, they are the result of precarious work, austerity measures, and privatization. All too often, they are preventable deaths.

By remembering those who have been killed or injured, we remember why we must continue to fight for the health and safety of workers. Our union stands up for workers to provide the protection they need to feel secure in reporting incidents and workplace hazards.

On April 28, the Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, we should pause to mourn our losses and renew our commitment to ending such tragedies.

— Kristina H., Vice President