Day of Mourning ceremony in Kelowna

April 22, 2003

KELOWNA - The North Okanagan Labour Council will remember workers who have been killed and injured on the job in a ceremony at Kelowna's Ben Lee Park on Saturday, April 26.

The Day of Mourning ceremony will take place at the site of a tree the NOLC planted in the Rutland park in 2000 as a memorial to workers who died or were injured in the line of duty.

The ceremony will get underway at 11 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.

The Day of Mourning is held annually on April 28. The NOLC is holding its ceremony two days earlier to allow more people to attend.

"The day has two purposes," said NOLC President David Doran, "to remember workers who have been killed and injured on the job, and also to fight for better safety for workers who are still on the job."

Begun by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984, the Day of Mourning is now observed worldwide. Labour councils and community groups throughout the province host ceremonies and events to mark the day.

Each year, hundreds of Canadians lose their lives as a result of their jobs. It is estimated one worker out of 13 suffers an injury at the workplace. More than 800,000 injuries are reported in Canada each year, of which more than 750 are fatal.

In 2002, 232 people died on the job in British Columbia, an increase of 39 over 2001, and 4,962 workers were permanently disabled, a 25 per cent increase in one year.

"Provincially, our government should be strengthening safety regulations and improving the workers' compensation system so it is more responsive to workers' needs," said Doran. "Incredibly, instead of improving safety standards, the government has been reducing them in the name of cutting red tape."

"Federally, we must continue to push for changes to the Criminal Code that will hold corporations and their officers accountable for their actions or negligence that result in injury or death."

Fatal workplace accidents take place right here in the Okanagan, as well. Last year in Kelowna, a grader operator was killed Aug. 30 when he was pinned beneath the wheels of his vehicle.

In 2000, the NOLC purchased trees at Ben Lee Park and near the Veteran's Memorial in the Memory Lane linear park in Vernon to mark the day of mourning.

The trees are marked with plaques at the two locations.

April 28 was chosen as the day of remembrance because this was the day that third reading took place for the first comprehensive Workers Compensation Act (Ontario 1914) in Canada. Parliament recognized the Day of Mourning in 1991. In 1992, the B.C. government designated April 28 as a day to remember those who have suffered as a result of the hazards of work.

The NOLC hosts or takes part in Day of Mourning ceremonies each year.

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