Every year on April 28, Canada marks the National Day of Mourning and provincially, flags at all government buildings are lowered to half-mast from sunrise to sunset.
April 28 was first declared as the National Day of Mourning by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984. The day is now annually observed across Canada as a way to pay tribute to individuals killed, injured or stricken with illness in the workplace.
“The death and injury of workers is a tragedy not just for the families of the deceased workers, but for all Saskatchewan residents,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. “The best way we can honour those who have lost their lives from workplace injuries or illness is to take responsibility for health and safety in the workplace to ensure that all workers go home safe at the end of the day.”
“We offer our condolences to those who have been impacted by the loss of a family member, colleague or friend,” Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Chairperson Gord Dobrowolsky said. “This is a day for all of us to recommit ourselves to Mission: Zero and to preventing workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.”
In 2020, 34 workplace fatality claims were accepted in Saskatchewan.
As part of the commitment to health and safety, WorkSafe Saskatchewan, a partnership between the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety introduced the Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy, which is aimed at reducing the number of injuries and the actions that will be taken to achieve these numbers. The four injury priority areas are: asbestos exposure; work related motor vehicle crashes; firefighter cancer exposure; and falls from heights.
The government has also strengthened regulations to help improve health and safety in the workplace including recent amendments which came into force on April 1, 2021 that standardize the workplace requirements for first aid kits. The adoption of several personal protective standards for headwear, eye and face protection, footwear, hearing and personal flotation devices are all part of an effort to make workplaces safer.