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May 1, 2008
Canada is unsafe because government not enforcing laws
"The numbers are mind-boggling . . . (Canada is)
killing and injuring . . . more per capita than almost every industrialized
country in the world.. . . companies are saving millions through a . . . (WSIB)
rebate program. . . . the courts in the case of a killed worker fined one
company . . . $150,000. The rebate, or reward, from WSIB was $318,000. Another
company was fined $100,000 and was rewarded $329,000. Isnt this sad? In
reality, it is not at all hard to explain. Governments and employers can talk
the talk, but they refuse to walk the walk. They love to talk about great laws
and regulations on the books or great internal policies they have in the
workplaces. But what some are not saying is they are not committed to enforcing
any of the written word. Its just words. "
One hundred attend Day of Mourning
Posted By SHANNON QUESNEL
No one wanted to be there.
No one wanted to see another name added to the wall.
Yet about 100 people came out to see 24 new names on the
Miner's Memorial at Horne Lake Park in Elliot Lake.
Every year, 1,000 Canadian workers are killed at the
workplace and many more die from a job-related illness despite living in one of
the safest countries in the world.
The deaths of those workers were remembered on Monday during
the national Day of Mourning.
Some of the people at the Miners Memorial experienced
the loss of a loved one due to work-related problems.
Ruben Juuti has been in Elliot Lake since 1957. He worked as
a miner sinking shafts and knows many of the names on the memorial.
Its a sad, sad situation, he says.
Sergeant Alex Hazell, of 756 Wild Goose Squadron,
Georgetown, Ont., was the bugler. He says the name of his grandfather, Albert
Kanabe, is on the wall.
Melanie Patry was there on Monday with her children, Kylie
and Kelsey Patry. She says the names of her grandfather, miner Ervin Ball, and
her uncle William Henry Rothwell are on the blocks.
Two large white banners were hung near the memorial.
Gladys Wiggins, a former school board
health and safety inspector, found space for the name of a deceased loved one
on a banner already filled with names.
Canada is unsafe
Barb Noel, a training services rep with the Workers Health
and Safety Centre, had harsh words about Canadas track record of
She was the keynote speaker after several others got a
chance at the microphone.
She mirrored some of their comments: of how the monument
should not need to exist and the workplaces in the country need to be safer.
Luc Rivet, a representative with the Canadian Auto Workers
Union, explains the Canadian Labour Congress created the Day of Mourning in
1984 and many countries now recognize April 28. This years theme is Mourn
the Dead, Fight for the Living.
Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Brent St. Denis says
workplace conditions are no longer as bad as they were 24 years ago.
St. Denis says the situation is still not perfect though in
this country and abroad.
Some of our own workers travel overseas and they know
first hand some of the conditions fall short of the conditions here,
We are happily today adding 24 more names to this
beautiful monument. Happy in the sense that we are commemorating the loss of
but sad their names are indeed recorded here for
Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day adds that about
900,000 are injured or become ill in Canada every year.
Some of those people were his relatives.
I think back to my own grandfather, his brother and
many of those men who worked in the Cutler acid plant who died of cancer, and I
cannot help but be convinced that conditions in the workplace contributed to
Perhaps their names
should be considered for a
place on this memorial.
Mayor Rick Hamilton was touched by the names on the wall.
But Im torn between recognizing and torn between
seeing names that shouldnt be on a wall. There should not be a need for
Almost a thousand workers die in Canada each year, but Noel
says the true figure is much higher due to exposures to toxins, carcinogens and
other accidents. Provincial reporting systems miss many of these incidents.
We know this is not the end of it. There are those who
just dont report injuries and deaths. Then there are those we know
nothing about and those the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) does not
recognize as compensable.
Noel says the Canadian Labour Congress hoped the creation of
the Day of Mourning would bring change and reduce carnage in the workplace.
It appears we were wrong. Every year, we update our
statistics. Its a depressing exercise. Since 1984 more than 25,000
Canadian workers have died due to work-related causes and close to 25 million
workers have been injured.
The numbers are mind-boggling in a country considered
to be one of the best countries in the world. How can we possibly be killing
and injuring so many workers? It is more per capita than almost every
industrialized country in the world.
Noel attacked the government for cherry picking
which health and safety laws and regulations to enforce.
In the meantime, more of our family members and
colleagues are dying and being injured on the job.
Noel says many employers take health and safety seriously,
but it is not enough.
She says a recent Toronto Star article explained companies
are saving millions through a Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) rebate
This is a system set up to reward employers with good
health and safety policies.
If they are good (employers) get all this money
back, she says.
Noel says the courts in the case of a killed worker fined
one company. The fine was $150,000.
The rebate, or reward, from WSIB was $318,000.
Another company was fined $100,000 and was rewarded
$329,000. Isnt this sad? In reality, it is not at all hard to explain.
Governments and employers can talk the talk, but they refuse to walk the walk.
They love to talk about great laws and regulations on
the books or great internal policies they have in the workplaces.
But what some are not saying is they are not committed
to enforcing any of the written word. Its just words.
This has to stop. Laws must be enforced. Appropriate
charges must be laid against employers who are responsible for injuries and
deaths. Workers must be protected.
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