The National Day of Mourning is observed in Canada every year on April 28, and is a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to collectively renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
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 more than 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, illnesses, and deaths. As much as this is a day to remember those who have lost their lives, it is also a call to protect the living and make work a place where people are safe and can thrive.
Beyond the statistics
According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), in 2021, there were 1,081 workplace fatalities recorded in Canada, 1,009 of which were male workers, and 72 were female workers. Among these deaths were 18 young workers aged 15-24.
Add to these fatalities the 277,217 accepted claims for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 34,548 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.
And it’s not just these numbers on which we need to reflect. With each worker tragedy there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – their lives also forever changed.
We encourage organizations, employees, communities, and individuals to observe a moment of silence at 11:00 am on April 28.