Joint Statement by the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on the National Day of Mourning

GATINEAU, QC, April 28, 2021 / CNW / – The Minister of Labor, Filomena Tassi, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of CanadaDavid Lametti and the Minister for Public Security and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, made the following statement today on National Day of Mourning:

“Everyone has the right to a healthy and safe work environment. Unfortunately, not all jobs are safe. Thousands of Canadians are killed, injured or suffered from work-related illnesses in the workplace every year.

Thirty years ago the Parliament of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act and made April 28th an official day of mourning for people killed or injured in the workplace Canada. Every year on this day we take a break to show our respect and remember these workers. We honor them and recognize the grief of their family and friends who miss their lost loved ones or see them hurt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has again underscored the importance of occupational health and safety. Important measures such as the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit have been put in place to keep workers safe and secure Canada Front and essential workers are supported. Today we are also pondering these workers and their families across Canada.

When we stop to think, it is important to remember April 28th also represents a day of action. That is why the government of Canada renews its commitment to improving health and safety in the workplace and preventing further injuries, illness and death. Better health and safety in the workplace is achieved through careful, deliberate action by workers and employers. However, our government recognizes that more can and must be done to protect our jobs and to give Canadian workers confidence in the laws that protect them.

The 1992 Westray Mine tragedy led to changes in the law establishing corporate criminal liability for deaths and injuries in the workplace. This includes introducing a legal obligation in the Criminal Code for anyone directing the work of others to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to workers and the public. Failure to do so can result in a criminal conviction and severe penalties.

The federal government has worked with its partners and stakeholders to ensure that the Westray provisions of the Criminal Code are properly understood and effectively applied. As part of this work, over the past year we published a series of fact sheets on criminal liability for death and workplace injuries: background information on Westray law, criminal offenses and their application by the courts, and conviction of individuals and organizations.

Since then, the federal government has worked with workers’ representatives, employers, and the provinces and territories to develop training resources such as the online course, “Investigating Serious Injuries and Fatalities in the Workplace”. Endorsed by the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, this training is available to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and labor inspectors through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network. Effective investigations make it easier to prosecute criminal misconduct and are part of building a more robust culture of safety in the workplace.

Taken together, these resources will lead to a better understanding of roles and responsibilities – for employers, health and safety regulators, police and prosecutors – in occupational health and safety and criminal behavior, and will contribute to healthier and safer workplaces for all. “

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SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

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