Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

April 26, 2012 14:26 ET

April 28 Day of Mourning Also Marks 20th Anniversary of Westray Bill

"Kill a Worker, Go to Jail" - The Only Way to Stop the Carnage

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 26, 2012) - OFL President Sid Ryan will be a key speaker 12 noon, Friday, April 27 at the Monument to Chinese Railway Workers, Toronto (west of Spadina, south of Blue Jays Way) in this first of numerous Ontario Day of Mourning events that commemorates the deaths of workers killed or injured on the job. At the Toronto event, special attention will be devoted to the three workers killed in February's horrific train accident. The victims were two veteran engineers, Ken Simmonds, 56, and Peter Snarr, 52, of Toronto, and a trainee, Patrick Robinson, 40, of Cornwall.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Nova Scotia Westray mine disaster that killed 26 workers. That unnecessary disaster prompted years of relentless lobbying by the United Steelworkers that finally resulted in a new Criminal Code of Canada provision, C-45. Also known as the "Westray Bill," it enables criminal charges to be laid against negligent executives and corporations in the case of a worker's death.

In the eight years since Bill C-45 was passed it was unused in Ontario, yet more than 500 workers have been killed on the job and more than two million injured. There is only one ongoing criminal trial over the 2009 Christmas Eve tragedy in which four migrant workers plunged to their deaths when their scaffolding broke. The fifth worker barely survived.

"Twenty-six years ago, in Canada, we mourned the loss of fewer workers than we do today. Mothers, fathers, children, friends and neighbours have endured the worst tragedies imaginable as the relentless drive for profits has been allowed to take precedence over the health and safety of workers. We must not permit one more company to ignore its obligation," says OFL President Sid Ryan.

In Ontario, in the first two months of 2012, there have been 71 deaths and 39,563 claims for work-related injuries and diseases reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board; in 2011, there were 436 fatality claims and 240,342 injuries and disease claims.

The OFL's "Kill a worker, go to jail" campaign calls for the vigorous use of C-45.

In 1991, the Parliament of Canada declared April 28 the National Day of Mourning. Every year since, unions, labour councils, families and community partners gather by the thousands to "mourn for the dead and fight for the living." What began through the efforts of Canada's labour movement is now observed in more than 100 countries.

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Contact Information

  • Ontario Federation of Labour
    Sid Ryan
    President
    416-209-0066

    Ontario Federation of Labour
    Lynn Simmons
    Communications
    416-737-5798 or 416.209.0066 (mobile)
    www.ofl.ca