The National Day of Mourning is aimed at remembering those workers who died on the job or as a result of a workplace accidents or illnesses. Sue Girard, a representative from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, was the master of ceremonies at the event.
She reminded the crowd gathered at the Miners’ Memorial that the Day of Mourning was created 30 years ago by the labour movement to increase awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents.
The following year, 1985, it was recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress. Eight years later, the federal government also recognized the day. Girard added that the Day of Mourning is recognized on more than 80 countries.
She continued by saying that Canada has some of the best occupational health and safety laws in the world. However, workplace deaths continue to rise in Canada. “In 2012, (a total of) 977 workplace deaths were reported in Canada, a six per cent increase over 2011,” Girard said.
“Statistics published by the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada for 1993 to 2013 show that during this 20-year period, more than 18,039 people died as a result of workplace accidents.”
She added that a couple of weeks ago, an event was held in Elliot Lake marking the 40th anniversary of the 1974 wildcat strike by Denison Mine workers. That strike, while illegal, gave birth to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Elliot Lake Mayor Rick Hamilton told the crowd the Day of Mourning has been a observed in Elliot Lake since about 1988.
“(That was) when it was still a mining and booming town, when we used to see regularly people injured, maimed and killed on the job,” said Hamilton.
He added that they were also adding two more names on a panel of the Miners’ Memorial. The two names are: Claude Caya and Russell Oscar Dumas.
Members of families of deceased workers were at the event remembering their loved one who died because of their employment.
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