National Day of Mourning for People Killed or Injured in the Workplace

April 20, 1999

Canadian workers who have been killed or injured on the job are being remembered on April 28, the Day of Mourning.

The North Okanagan Labour Council is asking local workers to observe a minute's silence at 11 a.m. and local businesses to fly their flags at half mast in memory of the thousands of workers who are killed and injured on the job each year across Canada.

NOLC President Marie Mentz and Vice-President David Mitchell will speak about the Day of Mourning at Kelowna City Council's afternoon meeting on April 26.

City council will proclaim the Day of Mourning in Kelowna. NOLC representative Steve Malerby will attend at Vernon City Hall to proclaim the Day of Mourning in the North Okanagan city.

According to recent government data:

  • One worker in 15 is injured on the job each year in Canada
  • Three deaths occur every working day
  • $5 billion in compensation was paid for deaths and injuries in 1995 alone
  • $9.9 billion is the estimated annual cost of occupational injuries to the Canadian economy.

Fatal workplace accidents aren't something that just happen in other parts of Canada, Mitchell noted.

Earlier this year in Kelowna, John Cook, 46, of Naramata was killed in an accident during renovations at the Orchard Plaza Overwaitea store. A community trust fund for his family has been set up in Naramata. Lloyd Boute, the owner of a Westside industrial company, was killed this month in an accident at his business.

Accidents in the utility and forestry industries have also been reported over the years in various Okanagan communities.

Mitchell was pleased with a Workers Compensation Board report this month that said B.C.'s job-related injury rate was the lowest this decade, but noted there are still too many workplace accidents and deaths in B.C.

"B.C. still has one of the highest injury rates in Canada," he said. "About one in every 20 workers is injured on the job in B.C. Governments and business should join labour in fighting to stop the deadly chain of workplace injuries."

He urged the government to reject a Royal Commission report on WCB reform that would financially penalize workers who are injured on the job. The report recommends reducing WCB benefits from 75 per cent of gross earnings to 90 per cent of net earnings. To the average worker, this would mean a reduction in WCB benefits of about $450 per month.

Other benefits would also be reduced, if the report is implemented. A positive step in the effort to reduce workplace injuries, Mitchell noted, is the WCB's new Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, which is now being enforced after employers were given a one-year adjustment period.

"We urge the WCB to move quickly to ensure that employers are following the new regulation," he said.

The Day of Mourning, a Canadian idea, is now observed in 70 countries and by labour councils and Federations of Labour across Canada.



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