Every year, on April 28, workers around the world mark the Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job. It’s an important day for us to remember those we’ve lost and renew our resolve to make our workplaces safer. Approximately 1,000 workers die each year in Canada from exposure to work-related hazards.

This year we honour these CUPE members who lost their lives at work since the last Day of Mourning:

William Miller, 56, CUPE 4705, City of Greater Sudbury, Ontario

Paul Barao, 60, CUPE 2544, Peel District School Board, Ontario

Thierry Leroux, 26, CUPE 5153, Council of the Anishinabe Nation of Lac-Simon, Quebec

Claude Davidson, 48, CUPE 3333, Réseau de Transport de Longueuil, Quebec

Mike McNeil, 61, CUPE 1259, Glades Lodge Nursing Home, Nova Scotia (on leave)

Jody Taylor, 43, CUPE 1004, City of Vancouver, BC

Day of Mourning ceremonies are being held across the country. Find an event in your region.

CUPE National President Mark Hancock and National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury will attend a ceremony in Victoria, BC.

“On April 28 we mourn these six CUPE members, and all the other workers who’ve been injured or killed. It’s a terrible loss that we refuse to accept as being part of the job. All workers should be able to come home healthy and safe at the end of a shift,” said Hancock.

The Strategic Directions document passed at CUPE National Convention made 2016 CUPE’s Year of Health and Safety.

“Ensuring the health and safety of workers is at the heart of the work of our union—it’s part of our core values,” Hancock continued. “When convention delegates made 2016 the year of health and safety, they gave us a great opportunity to put renewed focus on this important issue.”

To mark the Day of Mourning this year, CUPE is renewing its call for a full ban on the use, import and export of asbestos in Canada. While the former Conservative government stood in the way of progress on the issue, Hancock says the Liberals have a chance to do things differently.

“The Harper government showed a repeated disregard for the health and safety of Canadians. This Liberal government now has an opportunity to show that they do care—that the lives of countless workers across Canada matter to them,” said Hancock. “It’s time to catch up with the rest of the world. On April 28, we’re calling on the Trudeau government to ban the import, export and use of asbestos in Canada.” 

Hancock reiterated this demand in a letter to the prime minister. And on April 19, CUPE members participated in lobbying organized by the CLC, where a full asbestos ban was among the items up for discussion.

There are lots of other things happening as part of the Year of Health and Safety. Most CUPE divisions are holding a health and safety conference in 2016. CUPE will be providing educational materials and staff assistance to each division putting together a conference.

CUPE has also launched the new Health and Safety Learning Series. Modelled after the successful Steward Learning Series, the new Health and Safety Learning Series will include a nine-hour introductory course and a selection of three-hour modules.

Of course, important work is happening every day in our locals. That’s why each month we’re profiling a CUPE member about their health and safety activism at work. And for locals that want to recognize their own local activists, CUPE is offering a special certificate, for free, on our website. Order one and celebrate an activist in your local today.