The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Day of Mourning—April 28
For Everyone Injured or Killed on the Job
Each year in our country families are decimated by an all to common
occurrence: the death or maiming of a loved one in a job related
accident. All to often workers are put into situations that threaten
their health and safety, many times with disastrous consequences.
These accidents affect not only the victim, but have long-term
implications for their family, friends and co-workers. Furthermore,
there is the direct and indirect impact on our medical system.
There are many reasons for industrial accidents, but there are few
answers, solutions or resolve to stop the carnage. In fact, in British
Columbia the safety of workers has taken a back seat to profits. This
was made clear by the BC Liberal Government when it embarked on a
deregulation, at any cost, rampage.
The work put into drafting the latest edition of the Workers
Compensation Board regulations was monumental and inclusive. Members
from labour and the employer community were assembled to write the
regulations on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Committee consensus was
necessary before the regulations were put out to public hearings. The
process took years and resulted in a set of regulations endorsed by
Contrast this with the current government's mandate to eliminate
regulations for the sake of “streamlining.” The WCB has been revamped
by the Liberals to aid their financial backers. How do they accomplish
this? By removing safety regulations that would incur cost to the
employer. The pay off is in profits to the businesses. The cost is to
the workers and their families.
Less regulation means a reduced safety program in the workplace.
Government cutbacks to the WCB mean less enforcement of regulations and
consequently more accidents and injuries. The combination of reduced
enforcement and a weak regulator regime becomes a potent brew for
Every year on April 28, workers and their families gather to remember
their loved ones on the National Day of Mourning. This day has been set
aside to remember those people killed on the job.
It has also become, for many in the labour movement, a day to steel our
resolve to make things better for working people. I say steel our
resolve because that is what it takes to fight for workers' rights to a
safe workplace. It is amazing how much resolve it takes when we are
faced by governments bent on profit, not people; how much resolve it
takes when facing cold politicians, whose only agenda is to reduce the
number of citizens appearing at their offices with compensation
Some seem to find it easier to blame the worker. Take for instance the
worker who sustained permanent debilitating injuries after two logging
accidents. He was found not to be at fault in both cases. Liberal MLA,
Kevin Kruger, upon being told the story by the victim, attempted to
blame him for surely he according to Kruger “must have been
responsible.” It was an insensitive yet telling display rarely seen by
one civilized human being toward another.
The National Day of Mourning is held throughout Canada to pay our
respects and offer our condolences to the families of fellow workers
killed on the job.
Please plan to be a part of a ceremony in your community.
Dave Thompson is a
freelance journalist, labour activist and organizer and regular
contributor to the Columbia Journal.