Stop the Killing flyer

June 7, 2024
  • Misc. Resources
Image: Dark blue flyer with toddler in a USW hat and scarf holding a Stop the Killing placard

Every year, 1,000 workers are killed on the job in Canada

The United Steelworkers’ national campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, is confronting the appalling rates of workplace deaths and injuries across Canada and demanding justice.

Workplace deaths claim the lives of 1,000 Canadians every year. Tens of thousands more workers suffer horrible workplace injuries annually. The overwhelming majority of these tragedies are preventable and should never happen, plain and simple.

Important changes were made to the Criminal Code of Canada to hold corporations, their directors and
executives criminally accountable for preventable workplace deaths and injuries. These Criminal Code
amendments, known as the Westray Law, were enacted in 2004 to ensure such criminal accountability.

However, despite thousands of preventable workplace deaths in Canada in the more than 20 years since the Westray Law was enacted, there have been few criminal prosecutions and even fewer convictions.

We are keeping the pressure on

Through political lobbying, advocacy and education, the USW’s Stop the Killing campaign has made significant progress in raising public awareness and support for greater enforcement of the Westray Law.

Hundreds of municipalities, as well as law-enforcement agencies and other organizations across the country, support the campaign’s demands for federal, provincial and territorial governments to implement crucial measures to ensure the law is enforced.

The campaign has compelled law-enforcement agencies to pursue criminal charges and prosecutions in many workplace fatalities. (See examples here.

While progress has been made, the USW is more committed than ever to fight for greater enforcement of the law, for justice for workers and families and to stop the killing in Canadian workplaces.

Join our campaign to save lives and hold corporations accountable. Learn more at:

Honour the dead, fight for the living. The Westray Disaster – May 9, 1992

On this day, an entire shift of 26 coal miners died in a massive explosion at the Westray Mine in Pictou County, N.S. – one of the worst industrial tragedies in Canadian history.

No one was held accountable for this entirely preventable disaster. This travesty of justice triggered a lengthy public inquiry and 10 years of federal government lobbying led by the USW to demand change. The result was the Westray Law – Criminal Code amendments designed to hold corporations criminally accountable for workplace deaths and injuries.

There will never be justice for the Westray miners’ families and thousands of others across Canada until workplace fatalities are properly investigated and prosecuted under the Westray Law. Until corporate executives and officers are held accountable and sent to jail, our fight for justice and the protection of workers will continue.

The campaign to Enforce the Law

The USW campaign to Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law is aimed at ensuring criminal accountability for those responsible for preventable workplace deaths.

The USW is leading the way in lobbying governments to take decisive, meaningful action. This includes:

  • the appointment of dedicated investigators and prosecutors for workplace deaths, along with mandatory, standardized training for such positions;
  • having crown attorneys educated, trained and directed to apply the Westray amendments;
  • mandatory training provided for police and health and safety regulators to apply the Westray amendments – including necessary resources;
  • mandatory procedures and protocols in every jurisdiction for police, crown prosecutors and health and safety regulators as well as coordination.
  • dedicated prosecutors assigned in each jurisdiction and given the responsibility for health and safety fatalities.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments must better fulfill their mandates to enforce the Criminal Code to its full extent. Only by doing so can they honour the memory of the Westray miners,
provide a measure of justice to families and better protect workers.

Get involved. Endorse the campaign.


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