Michael Mantha – National Day of Mourning

Apr 28, 2018 @ 16:20


It is with mixed emotion that we stand here each year on April 28th as we pause to reflect upon the thousands of workers who have been injured, suffered illness or died as a result of workplace conditions or incidents. We must always remember that these workers are far more than just the sum of their titles or jobs. It is essential that we remember that each of those we honour today were real people – individuals, just as you and I. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, neighbours, coworkers and close friends. Each week they went to work with the intent of offering their labour to both support their loved ones and help our nation to grow and prosper. They went to work like all of us, secure in the knowledge that they have the support of management, coworkers, laws and health and safety standards to ensure they were coming home again after a day’s work.

Comme je le disais, c’est avec un éventail d’émotions que les travailleurs autour du monde viennent se recueillir et se souviennent de ceux qui ne sont plus avec nous aujourd’hui. Je suis fier de voir tout le respect qu’on accorde chaque 28 avril à ceux qui nous ont quitté. Et je suis tout particulièrement fier de voir autant de gens d’Elliot Lake venir se recueillir chaque année. Cependant, je me désole de voir que malgré toutes les régulations, les lois, l’éducation et la formation, les travailleurs continuent de vivre des situations dangereuses au travail.

Each year, thousands of Ontarians are killed or injured on the job or die from work-related diseases. Every week my offices receive many calls and letters from injured workers who have claims registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The WSIB is supposed to support our province’s most vulnerable. Instead, successive governments have permitted changes to legislation that have seen benefits to injured workers become more difficult to access or even taken away.

The truth is, under the watch of these 2 governments, those who suffer an injury at work and go to the WSIB for help get attacked on all fronts including; reduced claims, premature return to work, ignoring the advice of medical professionals – the list goes on, and on and on. Thousands of claims take literally years to resolve.

We all know that there is no legislation or court order that is capable of restoring the health of the sick or injured or that can bring back those who have died. But we do know that we can work hard to make our workplaces safer every day. Our labour unions and injured workers groups have worked tirelessly to reduce all forms of dangers such as exposure to hazardous materials or working in confined spaces. Here in Ontario we hear repeated calls for better protection for people such as our healthcare workers who often face violence in the workplace.

We also are now beginning to recognize that not all injuries are physical as labour organizations and unions are tackling the stigma of mental illness caused by workplace stress and factoring it into what makes a workplace healthy and safe. Unfortunately at this time WSIB continues to apply a policy that says they will only consider what they deem as the predominant cause of mental stress rather than also considering what are significant contributing factors from work that push people over the edge.

Aujourd’hui, dans plus de 80 pays autour du monde, on prend le temps de se souvenir de ceux et celles qui ont perdu leur vie ou qui ont été affligés par un incident un travail. Nous prenons cette journée pour nous rappeler qu’il nous faut rester vigilant et travailler non seulement à maintenir, mais aussi à améliorer les protections et standards de sécurité au travail. En tant que travailleurs et employeurs, nous devons traiter la sécurité au travail comme une valeur fondamentale.

Each and every day it is up to each of us to do all we can, in our schools, our homes, our place of employment, our union halls and in our legislative bodies to commit to workplace safety. But we must commit not only in words, but also in deed. None of us can do everything but we can all do something to help in this fight. We can all identify and report workplace hazards. Volunteer to be a workplace health and safety representative. Suggest to your employer the benefits of offering quality workplace training that promotes a hazard based approach.

It is important that today, and every day, we remember all workers who have suffered injury, illness or death.

Remember, we can all save tomorrow by thinking of safety today.

This Media Release