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Day of Mourning: One death or injury is too many

Day of Mourning, April 28, Remember & Renew.
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Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) marked 227 workplace deaths in 2017. That’s 227 daughters and sons and mothers and fathers who will never come home. 
 
Hundreds of thousands more were injured at work or developed and suffer from an occupational disease or injury. 
 
And those figures are not the true numbers—not even close. They only represent the death or injury claims “accepted” by the WSIB.
 
Over a third of Ontario workers are not even included in those numbers because they do not have WSIB coverage. And many more deaths are either not accepted as work-related, or are never counted because the connection to workplace causes was never made. 
 
In fact, one recent study estimates that the true toll is 10 to 13 times higher than what the WSIB reports. 
 
As we mark another Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, we must remain  committed to making our jobs and our workplaces safer for all.
 
A job must never be a death sentence. Work must never condemn a person to a lifetime of pain and suffering.
 
Ontario’s health and safety system relies too heavily on employers choosing to do the right thing. Employers make the ultimate decision about how to control hazards. These important decisions are often based on a business risk analysis where the tie does not go to the worker. 
 
It is no surprise to workers, unions, and activists that, throughout history, every improvement to health and safety laws and regulations came through the blood and sweat of workers
 
The improvements haven’t been handed to us; we’ve had to demand them, fight for them and, tragically, even die for them. 
 
Under the Ford government, the fight has become even harder and more urgent. It has already cut by billions the premiums employers must pay into the WSIB. And it has shown a shameful willingness to cut back on enforcement and inspections.
 
But all across the province, OPSEU members continue to fight for workers health and safety rights. Together, we’ll win. Have no doubt that every single activist out there working to prevent workplace violence, injury, and death is saving someone’s life. 
 
Let’s continue to work together, join with others and motivate employers and this government to make workplaces safer and healthier so that no more of us get hurt, get sick, or get killed. 
 
In solidarity,
 
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU President
 
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer
 
Day of Mourning Events in Ontario