On April 28, as we mark the Workers’ Day of Mourning, we take a moment to honour and remember those who have lost their lives on the job. It’s a day for us to reflect on the importance of safety and health at work, and to renew our efforts to prevent workplace injuries and deaths.

This year, we mourn the loss of two members of our CUPE family:

Jennifer Doucette, CUPE 1630, Manitoba

Steven Seekins, CUPE 374, British Columbia.

Their deaths are a stark reminder of the risks that workers face every day and the urgent need to make every workplace safer.

As trade unionists, it is our responsibility to continue the fight to protect workers. All workers need to know about the four workers’ rights enshrined in every health and safety law in the country:

  1. The right to refuse work you consider unsafe until an investigation is conducted
  2. The right to participate in deciding what is safe in the workplace and to report hazards
  3. The right to information on any hazard in the workplace that may cause harm, and how to prevent that harm
  4. The right to be free from reprisal for carrying out any of the other rights or any other requirement of health and safety law.

Creating a safe work environment is a shared responsibility. Employers need to listen to workers and work together with them to find solutions to health and safety issues. Health and safety committees are key to this process. These groups bring workers and employers together to talk about how to make workplaces safer and to tackle problems when they come up.

But we know there are challenges. Sometimes meetings get skipped, or workers feel like their voices aren’t being heard. We need to keep pushing for our rights to be respected and for our safety concerns to be taken seriously.

We also need to remember that workplace health and safety extends beyond physical protection to include mental and psychological well-being. Fostering an environment that supports good mental health is essential for maintaining a healthy workplace.

On this Workers’ Day of Mourning, let’s remember why it’s so important to stand up for health and safety at work. Let’s use this day to learn more about how we can protect ourselves and our coworkers, and to commit to making our workplaces safer for everyone. By doing this, we honour the memory of the workers we have lost and build a future where everyone comes home from work safe and sound.

CUPE offers many resources to help us learn about workplace health and safety and our rights as workers: