Today There Will Be Three: National Day of Mourning 2019
April 28th marks The National Day of Mourning in Canada, a day of remembrance, officially recognized by the Canadian government in 1991. The purpose of the day is twofold, a time to honour and remember workers who lost their lives or were injured on the job and to renew a commitment to improving health and safety in the workplace. Since it’s inception, The Day of Mourning has spread to nearly 100 countries and has been adopted by the AFL-CIO(American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations) and the International Confederation of Free Trade.
According to the latest statistics from 2019, in Alberta alone, 165 men and women lost their lives that year while at work and countless more that were seriously injured. Across Canada, a total of 925 work-related fatalities were recorded in 2019 – an increase of 3 deaths over 2018 but one less than 2017 – or almost 3 lives every day of the year. Add to this the 271,806 accepted time loss claims for work-related injury or disease (an increase of 20,000 claims over 2017) and virtually everyone has either been or knows someone who has been directly affected by workplace accidents or incidents. That is about one acceptable Workers’ Compensation claim every 30 seconds, in Canada alone.
The impact that work-related injuries and occupational diseases can be devastating, not only to the worker but to their families as well. The struggle to put lives back together and figure out how to cope and carry on following a death or life-altering injury or illness is enormous, despite the assistance and support that is provided by workers’ compensation boards across the country, provincial health care systems and other government programs. The fallout and lingering effects from these incidents continue long after the crises are over and the headlines have been forgotten.
The Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support, known as Threads of Life, is a Canadian registered charity founded in 2003 dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease. Born out of a project called The Young Workers Life Quilt, which honoured young workers who lost their lives on the job and brought together their families in a community of support, Threads of Life continues as a network of family members and corporate partners that believe that workplace accidents, injuries and deaths are preventable.
Although we will never be able to prevent or avoid 100% of fatal or serious injury accidents, it is only through continued education, awareness and attention that we can minimize the number and the effects. You can find out more about The National Day of Mourning and how you can participate at the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, Threads of Life or at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).
On April 28th, the Canadian Flag will fly at half-staff on Parliament Hill, workers around the country will light candles, wear black armbands and ribbons and observe a moment of silence. How will you remember?
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