In observance of the National Day of Mourning, IUOE Local 793 held a ceremony on April 26 at 10:30 a.m. to commemorate workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and occupational exposures.
More than 100 people, including many employers, apprentices and union staff, attended the hour-long ceremony.
“It is fitting that we held the ceremony here,” said IUOE Local 793 President Joe Redshaw, who was the event’s master of ceremonies. “It was built in memory of Local 793 members who died on the job or passed away from occupational illness.”
“Their names – 40 of them – are etched of the columns of the monument behind me.”
In 1984, the Canadian labour congress established april 28thas the National Day of Mourning in Canada. It is to remember and honour those who have died, been injured or suffered illness in the workplace.
The date was chosen in 1984, when the Canadian labour congress proclaimed the day to coincide with the 70thanniversary of the day the first Ontario Worker’s Compensation Actwas approved by the government (in 1914). The day of mourning was enshrined in national legislation by an act of parliament on February 1, 1991.
The day of mourning is observed by more than 100 countries worldwide. On this day, people stand together to honour the memory of all workers who lost their lives due to workplace injuries or occupational disease.
Workplace fatalities have a tremendous impact on families, workplaces and communities.
They leave a terrible void, especially knowing that each and every loss was preventable. Local 793 is resolved to improve workplace health and safety for everyone – for the workers and for the families and friends who need them.
Local 793 President Joe Redshaw said he is very happy to report that Local 793 had zero fatalities in 2018 and zero fatalities so far in 2019.
IUOE Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher commented during his remarks that he hoped that “Local 793 has started a trend, and that we have no fatalities going forward.”
Business manager Gallagher welcomed all attendees. He began by recognizing family members in attendance, those who had had loved ones pass away on or due to injuries sustained on a job site.
Their loved one’s names are etched on the monument. Marilyn, Sarah, Randy and Dick Gerritsen remembering Robert Gerritsen who passed away Sept. 17, 1995 at the age of 33 from injuries sustained in a crane accident.
Rae Munroe was also there, son of William Henry Munroe who passed away on Nov. 4, 1970. Business manager Gallagher shared this his name is one of the earliest names of the monument. He had passed away from injuries sustained in a construction site accident.
- Oakville MP John Oliver
- Oakville Mayor Rob Burton
- IUOE Canadian Regional Director Lionel Railton
- Kevin Flynn – former member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament for Oakville
- Tom Adams – Oakville’s Ward 6 Regional and Town Councillor Tom Adams
- Wayne Arnott – Chairman at Arnott Construction
- Kent Botham – Partner at BDO Canada
- Jason Hanna – VP of operations at Modern Crane; Operations Manager at ALL CANADA CRANE RENTAL CORPORATION; and President of the board of directors of the Crane Rental Association of Ontario
- Chris Brisbois – Principal at Eckler ltd.
- Karen Gleeson – Senior Consultant at Eckler ltd.
- Mark Zigler – Senior Partner in the pensions and benefits group at KOSKIE MINSKY LLP and Chair of the firm’s class action committee; Member, International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans; Member, Ontario Minister of Finance’s advisory committee on pensions; and Member, Canadian Bar Association
- Neil Waugh – President at NPL Canada ltd.; and treasurer on the board of directors of the Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada
- Rita Thompson – Labour Staff Partner at United Way Halton & Hamilton
- Jim Wright – Project & Communications Coordinator at the Ontario Construction Secretariat
- Pat Dillon – Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario
- Carlo Degasperis – Co-founder of TACC Construction ltd.
- Ben Ruggieri – Construction Manager at TACC Construction ltd.
“We only know too well the dangers that exist in the construction industry,” Gallagher said. “there is much more work to be done.”
“Think of this,” Business manager Gallagher said, “Each year there are 1,000 people dying from workplace accidents. Every single year. Year in and year out. It is preventable and unacceptable.”
“We should have a national effort to address fatalities that occur in workplaces across Canada. A modern industrial country like ours, it’s inexcusable,” Gallagher said. “For us to continue as parents, worrying about our children when they go out to work. Worrying about our spouses. That it might be the last time we see them when they go out to work.”
“We are not supposed to be going out to work like we are going out to war,” he shared with many attendees nodding in agreement.
“There should be a reasonable expectation that our children, our family members are going to be safe when they go out to work. And that they are going to return home at the end of the day to continue their natural life.”
Business manager Gallagher also spoke about the shifting governments that have come over the years of his involvement in the union. “I’ve seen governments come, and I’ve seen governments go.”
“We live in the real world,” Business manager Gallagher shared with passion. “Our members go to work everyday. They put their boots on and they want to be safe and well paid and then GO HOME AFTERWARD! And that should be a right!”
He further shared “We should not be out there tinkering, messing with a successful formula.”
“Bill 66 talks about skill sets. I say ‘bologna.’ A trade is a trade. The whole trade needs to be restricted from anybody who doesn’t have the compulsory training!”
“I’m calling out to the government right now. If you do nothing else that we like, don’t water down the compulsory trade because it is going to lead to LIVES LOST, ACCIDENTS HAPPENING, and possibly the LOSS OF LIFE.”
“There is no political equation here. It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to,” Business Gallagher said. “Safety first. Health and safety first. Protect the public. Protect the workers. That’s my message to the current government. And I hope that they listen. Because it would be awful…if they overlooked the COST, THE HUMAN COST, THE FAMILY’S COST!”
In 2018, 25 people were killed in construction site accidents in Ontario, he said, up from 22 in 2017, and up significantly from 14 in 2016.
In 2018, 255 people were critically injured in construction site accidents in Ontario – down from 271 in 2017.
In the last 10 years, each year across Canada an average of 952 Canadians have lost their lives due to work-related causes. And 186 of those fatalities were in construction – with an average of 18 or 19 construction fatalities each year.
From 2009 to 2018 there were 1,591 were critical injuries from accidents on construction sites. And these could easily have been fatal.
It is important to note that these figures only include claims approved by Workers’ Compensation Boards. A significant number of workers are not covered by Workers Compensation, so there are many deaths and injuries that have not been recognized as work-related.