I wanted to let you know about the plans for this year's commemoration of the National Day of Mourning on Wednesday, April 28.
As you know, the National Day of Mourning honours the memory of workers who have been killed, injured, or suffered illness as a result of their work. This is one of the most sacred days on our calendar.
It causes all of us real pain to know we can't gather in person for the second year as we continue to deal with the pandemic. In fact, we are now fighting the most virulent wave of COVID 19 – which is itself a reminder of the dangers facing working people. But this date is too important for us to allow it to go unmarked.
So once again we are co-sponsoring the Day of Mourning along with the WCB, the Business Council of BC and the Vancouver and District Labour Council.
This year, instead of a face-to-face event, we will be observing the day with a virtual ceremony. It begins at 10:30 am on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Please join us then at https://DayOfMourning.bc.ca.
And encourage friends, colleagues and members to come too. We may be separated by this pandemic, but we can still be together in grief, condolence and solidarity. A note that we ask that no wreaths be laid in the plaza.
We'll mourn the dead and fight for the living. That means we recommit to our efforts to protect the safety and well-being of working people by:
- Improving workplace health and safety;
- Rigorously enforcing occupational health and safety regulations – and holding those who violate them to account;
- Preserving the dignity of the thousands of workers who suffer injury or illness; and
- Ensuring full compensation to those who have been hurt at work.
Together, we'll do all we can to reach the goal I know you and I share: a province where every worker can go home safe and healthy at the end of every workday.
W. LAIRD CRONK SUSSANNE SKIDMORE
BC Federation of Labour | 200-5118 Joyce Street | Vancouver BC V5R 4H1
The BC Federation of Labour is located on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam),
səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) territories.
Apr 28, 2021 - National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job
Almost 40 years ago, CUPE’s National Health and Safety Committee created the Day of Mourning. When they envisioned the day, the members of the National Committee wanted to remember the lives lost on the job. They also wanted to inspire workers to fight for the living and prevent further tragedies through workplace advocacy.
This is the second Day of Mourning since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We have now seen over a million cases in Canada, with more than 23,000 deaths. These deaths include people who contracted COVID-19 in the workplace.
Every year, around 1,000 workers die on the job in Canada. We will not know the full impact of COVID-19 on workplace fatalities until later this year. However, since the beginning of 2020, fourteen CUPE members have died as a result of their work. Ten of these deaths were due to COVID-19. This constitutes the highest number of workplace fatalities in a given year that our union has ever recorded.
Evidence from across the country shows that COVID-19 is spreading at work, not only in health and care settings, but also in schools, offices, transportation, and other sectors. Frontline workers, including many CUPE members, are being disproportionately impacted. At-risk worker populations, including workers from racialized and immigrant communities, are being infected at levels that are magnitudes higher than the general population. This can be attributed in part to the effects of precarious work and a lack of paid sick days. These conditions are also affecting workers’ mental health.
Every jurisdiction in Canada has a law that requires employers to provide workers with a healthy and safe workplace. Nevertheless, throughout the pandemic, workers’ health and safety demands have gone unheard. Many governments and workplaces are refusing to acknowledge how COVID-19 is spread and are failing to provide workers with appropriate protection.
A pandemic is no excuse for not following or enforcing health and safety laws. Employers and regulators are failing workers.
No one should lose their life at work. This year, as we mourn workers killed on the job, CUPE vows to keep up the fight to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for all.
Since the beginning of 2020, 14 CUPE members died because of work:
- Victoria Salvan, CUPE 2881, Quebec
- Warlito Valdez, CUPE 1936, British Columbia
- Ronaldo David, CUPE 145, Ontario
- Jean-Géthro Joseph, CUPE 2199, Ontario
- Roger Desautels, CUPE 416, Ontario
- Agary Akaekpuchionwa, CUPE 503, Ontario
- Mariyan Beile, CUPE 2199, Ontario
- Kurtis Cleaveley, CUPE 1000, Ontario
- Aurèle Poirier, CUPE 4721, Ontario
- Tyler Isaac, CUPE 1000, Ontario
- Jean Claude Dianzenza, CUPE 204, Manitoba
- Ingrid Salt, CUPE 1328, Ontario
- Shihab Shams, CUPE 2191, Ontario
- Antonio Gaerlan, CUPE 145, Ontario
- Download and print CUPE’s Day of Mourning poster commemorating the members we lost on the job in 2020
- Order Day of Mourning material from our online store.
This Earth Day, we invite Local executives to sign on to the CUPE Climate Change Emergency Declaration.
While the planet reels in response to the health emergency from COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of the environmental crisis. There is no vaccine for climate change. Global temperatures continue to go up, and we continue to experience an increasingly destabilized climate.
CUPE recognizes the urgency of the situation and is dedicated to being part of the climate crisis solution.
This Earth Day, ask your local to endorse and sign on to the CUPE Climate Change Emergency Declaration. Pass it on to local labour councils and other community groups where you live to help build support. Act on the steps outlined in the declaration.
When your local signs the declaration, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examples of environmental bargaining language can be accessed here.
CUPE’s National Environment Policy can be accessed here.