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Day of Mourning: Remembrance and a renewed commitment to fight for worker safety

Publish date: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 update

Graphic comprised of black background, illustration of candle and the words "On April 28, we remember workers killed or injured on the job. Every day, we commit to creating safe working environments"

Every April 28, workers, unions, and labour organizations across Canada mark the National Day of Mourning for workers who have died or suffered illness or injury as a result of their work. It is a deeply somber occasion. We mourn the lives that were lost and think of those that were irrevocably changed. But we know that mourning alone is not enough.

“For AMAPCEO, April 28 serves both a day of remembrance, and a moment to recommit ourselves to the fight for workplace safety,” said Frank Tang, Chair of the AMAPCEO Health, Safety, and Wellness Committee.

This renewed commitment to workplace safety is particularly important this year, as COVID-19 has laid bare the desperate state of many workplaces in Ontario.

It is clear that workplace spread is driving the third wave of COVID-19 infections. Ontarians are dying in record numbers. And although no one could have predicted the initial outbreak of COVID-19, the rate of infections in this province and the extent to which workers have been impacted was avoidable.

It did not have to be this way. It did not have to get this bad. Choices were made, again and again, to prioritize profit over people’s lives, and to allow willful ignorance of necessary safety measures to go unchecked. Tragically, Ontario’s workers have paid a heavy price.

So today we mourn the loss of all workers, but especially those who were infected by COVID-19 as a result of an outbreak at their workplace or a family member’s workplace that might have been avoided or mitigated if proper health and safety measures had been in place.

We also take this Day of Mourning as an opportunity to once again join experts from across the province and repeat our demands for the government to listen. Implement actual paid sick days. Close all truly non-essential workplaces. Prioritize the vaccination of essential workers.

“AMAPCEO advocates for our members’ health and safety in the workplace. We work hard to ensure our members are not required to go into a workplace that is not safe,” said Tang. “But we also stand in solidarity with all workers across Ontario, unionized and non-unionized. No one deserves to fear for their life or safety at work.”

We want to remind members that every Ontarian has the right to refuse unsafe work and that AMAPCEO is here to support our members in exercising that right. If your workplace does not feel safe, we encourage you to report your concerns to a manager immediately, and to contact an AMAPCEO Health and Safety Representative. You can also review the “Right to Refuse Unsafe Work” fact sheet for your specific employer.

This April 28, we remember those who have lost their lives or seen them irreversibly altered by a workplace illness or injury, and we recommit ourselves to protecting workers’ health and safety now.

Just as things did not have to get this bad, they do not have to get worse.

We hope the government and employers across the province are listening.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).