Canadian Labour calls on governments to mark National Day of Mourning with stepped-up enforcement of health and safety laws

OTTAWA – The Canadian Labour Congress is marking this year’s National Day of Mourning with a renewed call for governments to step-up enforcement of federal, provincial and territorial health and safety laws.

On April 28, the labour movement will acknowledge and honour those men and women who died or were injured on the job over the past year due to workplace accidents or occupational diseases.

Across the country, flags will be lowered, quiet ceremonies will be held and workers will pause to remember friends and co-workers (information on events in or near your community can be obtained from your local Labour Council).

“We mark this solemn day with a mixture of sadness and frustration,” says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Sadness, because of the tragedy of injury and death that has touched so many working families. And frustration at the fact that so many of these deaths and injuries could be prevented through improved regulation and better enforcement of health and safety laws.”

Canada’s poor record was exposed last year in a report by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards which documented an 18 per cent increase in workplace fatalities in 2005 over the previous year. That year, 1,097 Canadians died because of workplace accidents or occupational diseases – the highest number ever. While other countries are reducing the number of work-related deaths, Canada is moving the wrong way.

“Five lives lost every workday is five lost lives too many. These are lives that could be saved by enforcing the laws we already have, which is why our theme for the 2007 National Day of Mourning is ‘Safe and Healthy Workplaces for All Workers’. Lives are not saved when governments simply adopt legislation then look the other way,” says Georgetti.

The Canadian Labour Congress initiated April 28 as the National Day of Mourning in 1984. Since then, it has grown into a worldwide event observed by labour and governments in over 100 countries. While a remembrance of the dead, April 28 is also a call to continue to fight for the health and safety of the living.

(The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Website: www.canadianlabour.ca)