Executive Director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions, Sean Strickland, has released the following statement on the 2023 Day of Mourning:
“Canada’s Building Trades Unions stand in solidarity with workers across the country to recognize the National Day of Mourning – a day to remember workers who have died or been injured in workplace accidents or due to occupational disease. Advocating for higher health and safety standards for our members and for all construction workers has always and will always be a priority for the Building Trades. That includes focusing on prevention so that every worker goes home to their family at the end of the day.
According to the latest available statistics, 1,081 workers were killed in workplace accidents in 2021. This represents a 16-per-cent increase from the 2020 total of 924 deaths. It was also well over the yearly average of 945 since 2009 and represents almost five workplace deaths every working day. Also up were workplace injuries at 277,225 in 2021 from 253,397 the previous year, representing a nine-per-cent increase. The situation gets more disturbing when one considers that these numbers are probably understated.
We are proud of the joint efforts of our health and safety committees that contribute to findings like a 2021 study by the Institute for Work and Health found that lost-time injury claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are 31-per-cent lower on unionized building trade construction jobs than they are in a non-union environment.
Despite our advances and utilization of best practices, union and non-union construction is the fourth highest occupation group for workplace fatalities at 20.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Falls are the common cause of death. Other risks include falling objects, electrocution and spills.
One injured worker, is one too many.
Let’s reflect upon our collective purpose, let’s remember, acknowledge and offer our deepest gratitude to those who have been injured, fallen ill or lost their life while at work. Their suffering and loss have led to much needed reforms that serve to prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths.
But we also owe it to them and others in the future to commit to doing all that we can to make sure every worker goes home safe. Prevention – including creating an environment where workers can refuse unsafe work – is part of the solution.
Mourn for the dead. Fight for the living.”
Kate Walsh firstname.lastname@example.org 613.298.0652
Canada’s Building Trades Unions are an alliance of 14 international unions in the construction, maintenance and fabrication industries that collectively represent over 600,000 skilled trades workers in Canada. Each year, our unions and our signatory contractor partners invest over $300 million in private sector money to fund and operate over 195 apprenticeship training and education facilities across Canada that produce the safest, most highly trained and productive skilled craft workers found anywhere in the world. Canada’s Building Trades Unions represent members who work in more than 60 different trades and occupations, and generate six per cent of Canada’s GDP. For more information, go to www.buildingtrades.ca.