Canada’s unions mark National Day of Mourning in solidarity with frontline workers

April 28, 2020

Canada’s unions are asking Canadians to observe this year’s National Day of Mourning in remembrance of workers who have lost their lives as a result of incidents in the workplace. This year, that includes a number of frontline workers who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

“As communities mourn workers we’ve lost this year, including many in recent weeks, we must remember that we owe it to them to do everything we can to protect all those who are still working in the midst of this crisis,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “The best way to honour them is to fight for the living. Every person should be able to go to work without the fear of being infected, or of bringing this virus home to their loved ones.”

The theme for the annual memorial this year is “Stop the pandemic at work.” Across Canada, 4.9 million workers have been deemed essential, meaning they have to keep reporting to work. They are risking their lives every day, keeping the rest of us safe and supplied. Many of these workers are paid minimum wage and receive no benefits. Workplace injuries and deaths are preventable, even in a pandemic. All workers, in every sector, deserve to come home safe at the end of their shift.

“Canada’s unions are calling for paid sick leave and adequate personal protective equipment for every essential worker on the front lines right now,” said Yussuff. “This pandemic has demonstrated who the essential workers really are. It is up to us to ensure society never undervalues essential workers again. That means fair compensation, benefits and all manner of necessary protections.”

In Canada, workers have three basic health and safety rights at work: the right to know about what could harm them in their workplace, the right to participate in decisions that affect their health and safety, and the right to refuse unsafe work. Canada’s unions are working to ensure that all essential workers know their rights and are able to exercise them as we all do our part to fight the pandemic.

This year, to respect public health guidelines, mourners will be gathering virtually to hold vigils for those who have lost their lives or had their lives changed forever because of an incident in the workplace.

To join the CLC’s call for a uniform policy of 14 paid, job-protected sick days for all workers, sign our petition here.

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