National Day of Mourning illustrates hazards of jobs

This past Sunday, April 28 was National Day of Mourning which was established to remember those who have died from injuries or diseases

This past Sunday, April 28 was National Day of Mourning which was established to remember those who have died from injuries or diseases acquired through their workplace. I was shocked to hear that last year, 145 Albertans died from workplace injuries.

This solemn day of mourning began in 1984 and was first known as Workers’ Memorial Day which was originally started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and has been recognized nationally since 1991. Today more than 80 countries observe April 28 as National Day of Mourning.

My colleague and Wildrose Caucus Employment, Immigration and Enterprise Critic Gary Bikman, stood in the house this past week and delivered a very heart felt members statement in recognition of this solemn day. He spoke of a personal experience in which he lost an employee in a work place accident, an employee that was also a good friend as well. He talked about how stories of work place accidents are still far too common and completely avoidable. The Cardston Taber Warner MLA also reminded us that safety has to be a collaborative effort that includes participation from government as well as employers and employees alike.

Nothing can erase the undue pain and hardship that families of Albertans killed in the workplace live with every day. These stories are still far too common and completely avoidable.

Government’s role in workplace safety was also outlined; “There are many reasons why accidents happen – most of them have to do with pressure; pressure to get the job done. But that can never be an excuse. Alberta workplaces must continue to strive toward a more transparent and accountable culture of safety. This can’t just be an attitude for the front-line workers, however. This has to be a culture that exists from the top down.

The Wildrose caucus supports measures to make companies more accountable for their safety records, but this needs to be a collaborative effort. We owe it to the families of Alberta workers to take measures to ensure transparency and accountability on workplace safety.

We would also encourage all Albertans to use this National Day of Mourning to remember those we’ve lost in workplace accidents, this year, and in previous years, and to think about what they can do to protect one another on the job.

Please work safely.

Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman can be reached via email at drumheller.stettler@assembly.ab.ca or by phone: Stettler 403-742-4284, Drumheller 403-823-8181, Hanna 403-854-4333.

— FROM THE LEGISLATURE