Today, April 28th, is the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job. As Saskatchewan battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is urging the provincial government to take immediate action to protect workers and ensure that there are no more preventable illnesses or deaths from COVID-19 contracted by workers while on the job.
“Sadly, last year, 34 workers in Saskatchewan died as a result of a workplace injury or a disease they contracted while at work,” said SFL President Lori Johb. “We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those workers, and recommit to our continued fight to make sure that all workers come home safe at the end of the day. This year’s Day of Mourning is especially meaningful, as we recognize workers who have contracted COVID-19 at work and who became sick or died as a result.”
The pandemic has exposed the lack of protection for workers- many of whom do not have access to the most basic workplace protections. Evidence shows that the virus is spreading at work, and in Saskatchewan two thirds of all current outbreaks in the province are considered workplace outbreaks- all of which were entirely preventable.
Johb once again called on the provincial government to take action by:
- Immediately implementing permanent, paid sick leave so workers don’t have to choose between going to work sick or collecting a paycheque
- Immediately implement rapid testing for all workplaces
- Ensure workers have access to proper personal protective equipment
- Ensure there are real consequences for any workplaces that fail to protect their workers or ignore public health guidelines
“The failure from our government to protect workers during this pandemic is unacceptable,” Johb said. “ We demand that our provincial government do better and take immediate action to ensure that there are no more preventable worker deaths from COVID-19.
This year, we recognize the human cost that COVID-19 has had on workers here in Saskatchewan, in Canada, and around the world, and mourn the lives of all workers who were taken from us too soon as a result of workplace injury or illness.”
Today for the second year, flags will fly at the legislature at half-mast to recognize the Day of Mourning. Names of workers who died as a result of their work in 2019 and 2020 will also be read in the legislature by members of both parties.
Reference site for information: Day of Mourning must be recognized with immediate action to keep workers safe (sfl.sk.ca)