Local labour advocates called for more enforcement of workplace safety rules as hundreds gathered in Vincent Massey Park yesterday to commemorate the 17th annual National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.
“Canada has some of the best health and safety laws in the world,” said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. “The problem is governments have cut back on the resources we need to ensure our workplaces are safe and to ensure our employers are not breaking the law.”
Last year in Ontario, 378 workers were killed at work while another 333,398 suffered work-related injuries.
Ottawa and District Labour Council president Sean McKinney said even if that number drops, we should not be satisfied.
“What difference does it make to affected families if there are 950 deaths or 1,000?” he said. “Workplace fatalities are entirely preventable with the proper mechanisms in place. It should never be that we focus solely on the reduction of workplace accidents injuries or deaths. It must always be on the elimination.”
NDP Leader Jack Layton called on workers to turn their concern to action and demand the government make more resources available to improve workplaces.
“We must turn our concern into action,” he said. “We have to act to prevent these terrible injuries from taking place.”
Layton said the foreign temporary workers program was a dangerous policy that will subvert workplace safety by bringing in thousands of people who will not be properly protected by Canadian laws and programs.