Day of Mourning

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): – Mr. Speaker, I stand on behalf of New Democrats and our leader today to honour our sisters and brothers who have lost their lives or suffered injury and illness in the workplace. We stand in solidarity on National Mourning Day, recognized on April 28.

Every day three working Canadians lose their lives on the job. The Canadian Labour Congress, provincial labour federations and labour councils across Canada have fought hard to bring attention to these issues and the thousands of workers who suffer because of lax safety standards and efficiency is put above workers’ safety and workers’ lives. The CLC first marked the event in 1984 and since then it has grown into a worldwide event observed in over 100 countries.

There are approximately one million workplace injuries a year in Canada, every seven seconds each working day. Deaths from workplace injury average nearly 1,000 a year. In Canada one worker is killed very two hours over each working day. Deaths from workplace diseases go largely unrecorded and uncompensated. They likely exceed deaths from workplace injuries. Despite this, many governments are weakening health and safety rules and their enforcement. Back to work legislation and the defeat of anti-replacement worker legislation are examples of how governments are chipping away at workers’ rights.

Sadly, last week we learned that a railway worker was killed on the job. Just yesterday two workers were killed and four others were injured on an oil sands construction site in northern Alberta, all of whom were foreign workers from China. We have to ask: Why is the government expanding the foreign worker program without real safeguards to prevent exploitation and ensure compliance with working standards?

We can and we must meet the goal of safer and healthier workplaces. Governments and businesses must start chipping away at labour rights. Laws protecting workers’ rights must be stronger and they must be enforced.

Workers’ rights are human rights and in respect and honour of the lives lost and the families affected by death, injury and illness in the workplace the NDP commits today to renew its fight for safe and healthy working conditions for all Canadians.

We call on the government to commit to the same.