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.

Related Articles

Canada’s unions mark Black History Month by calling for racial justice in pandemic response and recovery

Canada’s unions are marking Black History Month by calling for an end to systemic anti-Black racism. This includes urging the federal government to disaster-proof Canada’s social safety net to ensure a COVID-19 response and recovery that is rooted in racial justice. “This is a time of reckoning,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “The double crisis of…
Read More

Canada’s unions stand with India’s farmers and farm workers

Canada’s unions stand in solidarity with farmers and agricultural workers in India as they continue to protest recent reforms to agricultural laws that deregulate the industry and leave farmers and farm workers vulnerable to exploitation by international corporations. “Deregulating local produce markets will have a devastating impact on farmers, farm workers and food security in India,” said Canadian Labour Congress…
Read More

Canada’s unions mark World Day for Decent Work with a call for a robust economic recovery plan

COVID-19 has exposed flaws in social protections in Canada and around the world. The effects of this pandemic on health, employment, income, gender and racial equity are all the more catastrophic because of pre-existing gaps in our social safety net. Before the pandemic, ever-increasing globalization meant many workers were employed in precarious, low-wage work with few, if any, benefits. Now…
Read More