West Kootenay Labour Council President’s Speaking Notes Day Ceremonies
Castlegar, Trail, Nelson
Twenty-five years ago, Canada proclaimed April 28 as the National Day of Mourning for workers injured or killed on the job. While the flag on Parliament Hill will fly at half-mast today, we stand here in the West Kootenay to join together with people across this country to remember colleagues, friends and family who have been victims of workplace related hazards and incidents.
Local union members, as represented by the West Kootenay Labour Council and the Canadian Labour Congress, participate to represent and advocate for each and every worker in the West Kootenay. As we think of those who have been injured, and mourn the loss of those who have died on the job, we also reach out to their loved ones. We are reminded that in order to demonstrate the respect their situation rightly deserves, we must recognize that these injuries and deaths were all preventable. This fact creates a compelling case for change and action to continually improve the workplace by identifying, mitigating and eliminating the root causes in the workplace; and to work to implement comprehensive action plans to create safe work environments across this country and to share our learnings to the global community.
Unions in Canada continue to stand up for the health and safety of everyone who works for a living. They work with employers to improve working conditions. They work with governments to improve workplace health and safety standards and pass laws to punish employers who put lives at risk for their own gain. In the past year, Unions have fostered workplace protections for victims of domestic violence. Recognizing that not all injuries are physical, unions are also taking on the stigma of mental illness and factoring it into what makes a workplace healthy and safe.
This year, the Canadian unions are calling for a comprehensive national ban on asbestos. Asbestos is the number one cause of occupational death in Canada. More than 2,000 people die every year from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos—mesothelioma, (mez-oh- thee-lee- oh-ma), lung cancer, and asbestosis. Death from mesothelioma increased 60 percent between 2000 and 2Optional (in Italics) Despite this, imports of items that contain asbestos, like brake pads and cement pipes, are on the rise, increasing the risk of exposure to a known killer. In 2014, imports of asbestos brake linings and pads hit a seven year high, valued at $3.6 million that year alone. There are safe alternatives to asbestos. Asbestos-free brake pads are already manufactured in Guelph, Ontario. This means that substituting for safe alternatives will create Canadian jobs and support Canadian industries.
All worker’s should have a rightful expectation of a safe work environment and unions will continue to play a vital role as the worker’s representative in order create public awareness, to influence and to be an advocate for positive changes to workplace health and safety. This is the promise we keep to those workers who have died or who have been injured, and to their families and to their friends.
“Fight for the Living, Mourn for the Dead”❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ Thank you.
Pictures from Nelson BC and Trail BC