Most of us know about Remembrance Day and that it is honored every year on Nov 11th. But how many of us know about Day of Mourning which is honored every year on April 28th ? Have you even heard about Day of Mourning? In 1991 the Canadian Parliament passed an Act making April 28 an official day of Mourning. Similar to Remembrance Day, Day of Mourning is a day of remembrance for employees who have died, became injured, or ill due to conditions at the workplace.
As much as this is a day to remember the dead, it is also a call to protect the living and make work a place to thrive. The programs established are numerous and accessible on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) website. But more needs to be done. It is the hope of CCOHS that the observance of this day will strengthen the resolve to establish safe and healthy conditions in the workplace, and prevent further injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
In 2019, there were 271,806 claims reported and accepted by the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC). These statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards. There is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater. Added to this number were 925 fatalities (882 male workers, and 43 female workers). With each worker tragedy there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – their lives also forever changed.
Employers and workers have observed Day of Mourning in a variety of ways over the years. Some have lit candles, laid wreaths, worn commemorative pins, ribbons or black armbands, and paused for a moment of silence.
In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, organizations, communities, and individuals are encouraged to consider holding or supporting a virtual event, or simply pause at 11:00 am on April 28 for a moment of silence. These acts of remembrance help to honour the lives lost or injured due to workplace tragedy, while also acknowledging the sacrifices of frontline and essential workers who have died or become ill serving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers and individuals can show their support and commitment to a safe workplace by promoting the social media cards and messages provided by CCOHS. By sharing these messages, you are reminding more people to put health and safety at the forefront of their work and helping to prevent further work-related injuries and loss of life.
Remembering those killed, injured, or made ill in the workplace and renewing our commitment to prevention.
Please take a stand and be counted. Visit the websites, order stickers, pins, social media posters and other materials to share with colleagues, loved ones and friends. Access you EFAP and reach out for more programs. You are not alone.
For more information visit:
1. Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC)
2. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) websites.
Dr J.C. Herrett DSW MSW RSW