By David F. Rooney
The turnout for this year’s National Day of Mourning, held annually to commemorate the men and women who are killed on the job, was sparser than usual but that did not diminish the small crowd’s need to honour those who have been killed or injured in the workplace.
“You’d be amazed how many people have been touched by work-related deaths,” said organizer Michelle Cole.
The numbers tell the story. In 2013, 902 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada. While it’s the lowest total since 2000 when 882 fatalities were recorded, this number still represents 2.47 deaths every single day. All of those people were part of a web of relationships: parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, acquaintances, spouses or partners and children.
In the 21-year period from 1993 to 2013, 18,941 people lost their lives due to work-related causes.
The National Day of Mourning was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress. The Day of Mourning has since spread to about 80 countries around the world and has been adopted by the AFL-CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade.
“We’ve made leaps and bounds in terms of worker safety,” he told the crowd of about 30 people who gathered at the Workers’ Memorial in Centennial Park. “But that does’t mean we can be complacent.”