One is too many: no one should die for the job

April 26, 2019

April 28 is the National Day of Mourning, a day to commemorate those who have died or been injured as a result of their job. This year, Canada’s unions are calling on employers and governments to do more to protect workers.

“One workplace death is already too many. Workers deserve to arrive home safely at the end of their workday. No one should die for their job,” said Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) President Hassan Yussuff. “Yet, there were almost one thousand reported workplace deaths in Canada in 2017, and recent research shows us that these statistics on workplace injuries, accidents and illnesses are just the tip of the iceberg,” Yussuff continued. Official numbers only take into account approved compensation claims, leaving out illnesses and deaths that go unreported or claims that are denied, or workers not covered by compensation systems at all.

Workers need better enforcement of existing occupational health and safety legislation, and the Westray sections of the Criminal Code of Canada. Employers need to invest in proven prevention tools, including empowered, well-trained health and safety committees.

Unfortunately, provincial governments across the country – like Ontario and Manitoba –have been weakening health and safety provisions when they should be working to strengthen them. Ontario announced a change in its requirement for basic health and safety certification from the current standard three days of instructor-led, in-class training to a one-day on-line course. And Manitoba introduced changes to its Workplace Safety and Health legislation, eliminating the Chief Prevention Officer position and adding a six-month deadline for workers to report complaints. It also provided new authority for a labour director to dismiss complaints without first starting an investigation.

“The previous federal government weakened the definition of danger in the labour code without any consultation. The right to refuse dangerous work is often a worker’s last line of defence,” said Yussuff. “This government must reinstate the previous definition, that was developed in consultation with workers and employers.”

Canada’s unions have also called on the federal government to better protect workers. This means reinstating the pre-2014 definition of danger in the Canada Labour Code Part II to once again include the right to refuse dangerous work, hiring and training more federal health and safety officers, and enforcing the laws we have including legislated occupational health and safety requirements and the Westray Law.

Related Articles

Canada’s Unions deliver clear priorities for federal airline relief package

OTTAWA – Today, Canada’s airline unions met with the Minister of Finance and Minister of Transportation to share the concerns of aviation industry workers and to provide solutions to ensure the sector’s viability. Chief among their priorities is to ensure that any federal financial aid package responds to the needs of workers still on the job as well as the…
Read More

Canada’s unions say marginalized workers must not be forgotten during pandemic

Canada’s unions are marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by calling on the federal government to protect the rights of marginalized workers and refugees as part of its COVID-19 response. Migrant workers, undocumented people, people living on low-incomes, international students, racialized workers and refugees are particularly vulnerable to the health fallout of the current pandemic, as…
Read More

Canada’s Unions welcome government aid for workers

OTTAWA – The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is pleased with measures announced today by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to help Canadian families deal with the major upheaval the country is facing. Vulnerable workers are at the front lines of the current crisis, in our hospitals, grocery stores and pharmacies, making sure Canadians have access to the food and…
Read More