Canadian Contractor

By Canadian Contractor staff   

Canada’s Building Trades Unions releases statement on Day of Mourning

Canadian Contractor

April 28, 2023 –  Executive director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions, Sean Strickland, has released the following statement on the 2023 Day of Mourning:  

“Canada’s Building Trades Unions stand in solidarity with workers across the country to recognize the National Day of Mourning – a day to remember workers who have died or been injured in workplace accidents or due to occupational disease. Advocating for higher health and safety standards for our members and for all construction workers has always and will always be a priority for the Building Trades including focusing on prevention so that every worker goes home to their family at the end of the day.   

According to the latest available statistics, 1,081 workers were killed in workplace accidents in 2021. This represents a 16 per cent increase from the 2020 total of 924 deaths. It was also well over the yearly average of 945 since 2009 and represents almost five workplace deaths every working day.  Also up were workplace injuries at 277,225 in 2021 from 253,397 the previous year, representing a nine per cent increase. The situation gets more disturbing when one considers that these numbers are probably understated. 

We are proud of the joint efforts of our health and safety committees that contribute to findings like a 2021 study by the Institute for Work and Health found that lost-time injury claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are 31 per cent lower on unionized building trade construction jobs than they are in a non-union environment. 

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Unfortunately, the entire industry despite our advances and utilization of best practices, when taken as a whole, union and non-union construction is the fourth highest occupation group for workplace fatalities at 20.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Falls are the common cause of death. Other risks include falling objects, electrocution and spills.   

One injured worker, is one too many. 

Let’s reflect upon our collective purpose, let’s remember, acknowledge and offer our deepest gratitude to those who have been injured, fallen ill or lost their life while at work. Their suffering and loss have led to much-needed reforms that serve to prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths. 

But we also owe it to them and others in the future to commit to doing all that we can to make sure every worker goes home safe. Prevention –  including creating an environment where workers can refuse unsafe work – is part of the solution.  

Mourn for the dead. Fight for the living.” 

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