Flags flew half-staff as Dawson Creek marked National Day of Mourning with a ceremony Friday afternoon.
Speakers talked about the importance of workplace safety. In 2017, there were at least 951 workplace fatalities in Canada.
“If we include all the uncounted, the research suggests it may be 10 to 13 times higher than those numbers,” said CUPE Local 4203 president Cory Longley.
“We know statistically workers are at more risk if they’re young, male, and work in high risk industries.”
Last year, it was estimated that BC lost 131 workers to injury or disease, at least four of which happened in the Peace Region. As well, there were nearly 110,000 claims made for health issues including short term or long term disability in BC last year.
“Each of those losses is a tragedy,” said Troy Lockhart, an occupational hygiene officer with WorkSafeBC. “One workplace death is too many.”
Longley praised the City for working towards its core certification and revamping its joint occupational health and safety committees.
“It is crucial that employers invest in prevention and a robust enforcement regime to protect their most important assets, the workers,” he said.
“We will continue to work with the City of Dawson Creek to always ensure that our members are always arriving home alive and safe.”
Councillor Shaely Wilbur, who spoke as acting mayor, said the issue was particularly personal for her.
“For my family, we got a call one day to find out my husband had fallen down an elevator shaft, because someone hadn’t put the safety measures in place so that everyone knew that that elevator was not workable,” she told the crowd gathered.
“Every single day, we have the opportunity to remind people to be safe, we have the opportunity to remind people to report things that are unsafe, and it’s even little things like even driving to work and maybe you’re a little bit late in the morning, just slow down and take a break, because we want everyone to not only be safe at work, but we want them to get to work safely and we want them to get home to their families.”
The National Day of Mourning actually fell on the Sunday, but the City held the ceremony on Friday. It began after two labour activists were stopped in traffic for a funeral procession of a firefighter killed in the line of duty, and wondered why deaths of workers in all professions were not recognized like this. The observance of the day was initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984, and was recognized by the Canadian government in 1990.