The National Day of Mourning, held annually in Canada on April 28, is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the job or due to a work-related tragedy.
Statistics and beyond
The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2014, 919 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada - more than 2.5 deaths every single day. Among the 919 dead were thirteen young workers aged fifteen to nineteen years; and another twenty-five workers aged twenty to twenty-four years.
Add to these fatalities the 239,643 claims accepted for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease. Including 7,998 from young workers aged fifteen to nineteen, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, and the situation is even direr.
What these numbers don't show is just how many people are directly affected by these workplace tragedies. Each worker death impacts the loved ones, families, friends and coworkers they leave behind, changing all of their lives forever.
The National Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.
On April 28th the Canadian flag will fly at half-mast on Parliament Hill and on all federal government buildings. Employers and workers will observe Day of Mourning in a variety of ways. Some light candles, lay wreaths, wear commemorative pins, ribbons or black armbands, and pause for a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m.
In 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress, the Parliament of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act making April 28 an official Day of Mourning. Today the Day of Mourning has since spread to about 100 countries around the world and is recognized as Workers’ Memorial Day, and as International Workers' Memorial Day by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
It is the hope of CCOHS that the annual observance of this day will help strengthen the resolve to establish safe and healthy conditions in the workplace, and prevent further injuries and deaths. As much as this is a day to remember the dead, it is also a call to protect the living and make work a place to thrive.
Show your commitment
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A day to remember lives lost or injured in the workplace and to renew our commitment to preventing further tragedies.
Let’s remember those killed or injured in the workplace and renew our commitment to worker health, safety and well-being.
Mourning Day Act
S.C. 1991, c. 15
An Act respecting a Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace [Assented to 1st February, 1991]
WHEREAS it is desirable that Canadians should designate a day of mourning to remember workers killed, disabled or injured in the workplace and workers afflicted with industrial disease;
AND WHEREAS Canadians seek earnestly to set an example of their commitment to the issue of health and safety in the workplace;
NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows
1.This Act may be cited as the Workers Mourning Day Act.
Day of Mourning
2. (1) Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the 28th day of April shall be known under the name of "Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace".
(2) For greater certainty, the Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace is not a legal holiday or a non-juridical day and shall not be required to be kept or observed as such.
The LifeQuilt, a project by Threads of Life, is a unique and permanent memorial dedicated to the thousands of young women and men between the ages of 14 and 24, who have been killed and injured on the job. The quilt commemorates 100 young workers killed on the job with individual, personalized quilted blocks. One hundred injured young workers are recognized on the centre panel. Learn more
The following are photos of monuments from around the world that have been erected and dedicated to workers whose lives have been lost on the job.
If you know of a monument to fallen workers located anywhere in the world, please contact us. Be sure to include the location and a short description of what the monuments represents.