OPINION: Workplace deaths are needless tragedies

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Although we live in a world with a never-ending debate over rights, there is a right over which virtually no one should disagree.

The right to come home safely after a day of work.

In 2021, nearly 1,100 Canadians didn’t make it home. They died on the job.

April 28 is the National Day of Mourning in Canada, during which Canadians pause to remember those who have died or suffered injury or illness in the workplace.

That date was chosen in 1984 by the Labour Congress of Canada to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the first Ontario Worker’s Compensation Act. The Day of Mourning was enshrined in national legislation by an Act of Parliament on Feb. 1, 1991 and is now recognized in 100 countries around the globe.

Canadian flags on Parliament Hill and at Queen’s Park fly at half-staff on April 28.

We reached out to the family of Justin Martin in this week’s edition. They were kind enough to share the story of their son’s death in 2021. Nearly two years later, the pain and regret of a life lost too soon is still seared into their consciousness.

Their story is one of grief that resonates beyond the immediate family and throughout the community.

Each fatality is singular in its manner, but each one evokes the same sense of loss and tragedy in a cumulative sense.

An average of 935 workers have died each year in Canada since 2009. That’s more than two people per day who don’t come home at the end of their shift.

Every single day.

We can do better.

Awareness is the first step. That’s why the ceremonies, the speeches and the lowering of flags are important. Each year, a new group of workers enters the economy. Some need to remember. Others need to learn for the first time.

The next step is the realization that everyone needs to play a role. No one group, government, employers or employees can achieve a safe workplace.

It takes all of us.


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