Remembering workers on the National Day of Mourning

Recent statistics show that 919 people lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2014.
Recent statistics show that 919 people lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2014. (Photo: iStock)

April 28 is the National Day of Mourning, also known as Workers' Memorial Day, in Canada. While it’s not a paid holiday off work, it’s still commemorated across Canada. Though a sobering day, many Canadians may not be aware that this day is dedicated to the people who have lost their life on the job.

The Canadian Labour Congress earmarked this day on an annual basis to remember those who have been injured, got ill or died at work in 1984. April 28 was chosen because it was the same day 70 years earlier that the Ontario Worker’s Compensation Act was passed.

Parliament also created the Workers' Mourning Day Act in 1991. The short act spells out the purpose of today but also seeks to remind people about health and safety issues at work.

Recent statistics from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada state that 919 people lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2014. That is a indeed a worrying statistic, which is why it’s so important to be aware that there are occupational health and safety acts in every province and territory in Canada that exist to safeguard workers in most workplaces. Depending on the province or territory, either the ministry of labour is responsible for the act or the worker’s compensation board or commission.

Federal and provincial/territorial workers compensation boards exist to help workers who have become ill or injured at work, and operate according to the Meredith Principles. The principles include:

  • Workers are to be compensated for work-related injury, illness or death;
  • Funds are guaranteed to exist to pay benefits to injured or ill workers.

Most workers are insured by a worker’s compensation board, which commonly pays out such benefits as:

  • Wage loss benefits;
  • Dependency benefits;
  • Permanent disability benefits; and
  • Rehabilitation.

To remember workplace casualties, ceremonies will be held throughout the country.

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