Day of Mourning 2022

As we approach the Day of Mourning this year, no one could have imagined that we would find ourselves still in the midst of the global pandemic that first came to our attention in early 2020.

While great progress has been made in tackling COVID-19, such as widespread vaccination programs, we remain vigilant in making sure it does not become as deadly as it has been over the last couple of years.

In light of the rate of vaccination and the lifting of restrictions, it is likely that many of us will be able to return to in-person commemorations for the Day of Mourning, honouring those who have been killed, injured or made sick by their work. It is also a day where we recommit to creating workplaces where workers can enjoy a safe and healthy environment. If it can be done safely, it is hoped that as many of us as possible can gather together to recognize this solemn event.

For the third year in a row, we include in our remembrances the many workers who have died because of the pandemic. Too many “essential” workers were placed in dangerous circumstances by employers who were not following basic health and safety principals and instead allowed the virus to spread. These were wholly preventable deaths. Governments and employers alike failed workers with their total lack of preparedness and poor management of the pandemic.

The pandemic has also caused negative impacts on workers’ mental health through isolation, fear of contracting the virus, long-term illness and ongoing economic insecurity.

The Day of Mourning is deeply relevant as we continue to see an unacceptable level of workplace fatalities, injuries and disease. We see a disturbing trend across the country by anti-worker governments who gut health and safety regulations. We know this will only lead to more carnage, which is why we continue our fierce opposition to such regressive policies. A prime example are the changes enacted through Bill 59 in Quebec, which have weakened safeguards, diminished prevention initiatives and cut compensation for sick and injured workers. Our union fought back against these changes every step of the way.

Similarly, the Alberta government recently stripped away workers’ safety rights through the Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act. We must continue our work to strengthen health and safety provisions through collective bargaining to ensure workers are protected from governments who put employers ahead of workers.

The pandemic has also exposed the need for paid sick days for all workers, in all jobs, and underscored the need to work to elect worker-friendly governments in every jurisdiction.

Every day, the USW is pushing for better health and safety legislation and stronger enforcement. Our union and our many activists will face every challenge head-on. We will continue our Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law campaign until every negligent and uncaring employer knows that killing a worker could land them in jail. We are continuing our efforts to make law enforcement and the justice system aware of the Westray Law and why and how they need to apply it. This year marks 30 years since the tragic explosion that killed 26 miners at the Westray mine in Nova Scotia. We committed to preventing such tragedies 30 years ago and we maintain that commitment today, as such preventable deaths continue.

On April 28, we mourn the dead and recommit to fight for the living, every day.

In health, safety and solidarity,

Marty Warren
National Director for Canada

Scott Lunny
USW District 3 Director

Dominic Lemieux
USW District 5 Director

Myles Sullivan
USW District 6 Director

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