One by one the names of the 27 workers killed by workplace-related injuries or illnesses in 2017 were read out loud Saturday, in front of Regina City Hall. That same year, another 22,000 people were injured on the job.
Every year on April 28, crowds gather across the country in recognition of the National Day of Mourning.
It’s a day where unions, workers and families mourn not only the lives lost on the job, but those who have also been injured or suffered illnesses from workplace-related incidents.
“We’re still the second worst when it comes to injury rates behind only Manitoba,” Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president, Larry Hubich said.
Several leaders spoke at the event including city councillor Andrew Stevens and NDP MLA Trent Wotherspoon.
“There’s so much more that we need to do, to act, as identified by Councillor Andrew Stevens, to ensure the safety, the health and the lives of workers across Saskatchewan,” Wotherspoon said.
Ronley Arnold suffers from PTSD, the result of an operational stress injury, related to his line of work.
“I was having to deal with quite a bit of violence in situations and so it became very difficult for me to be at work and not have any triggering issues,” Arnold said.
While Arnold said society has come a long way in recognizing mental health, there are still barriers to overcome.
But it’s not just mental health, this year’s theme is “violence and harassment are not part of the job.”
“Bullying and violence are not just happening on the school ground, it’s happening in the workplace,” Regina & District Labour Council president, Ken Kubian said. “Employers should work with health and safety committees to develop policies and programs in co-operation with the workplace health and safety committees.”
During the ceremony, red roses were handed out in memory of each worker who died last year. Wreathes, along with green and yellow flowers were also laid in honour of those who died in the Humboldt Broncos tragic bus crash on April 6.
Other cities across the province also held memorials, including Saskatoon.
“It gives us pause that what we are trying to strive for is a safe workplace where people know they can come home and know they can support their children and families,” acting president of the Saskatoon and District Labour Council, Don MacDonald said.
During the day, flags flew at half-mast at the Saskatchewan legislature and on Parliament Hill as a reminder that even one worker killed or injured on the job is one too many.
“It’s easy to stand back and say it’s the responsibility of the employer,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. “The responsibility is on everybody that’s on a work site, whether it’s another worker, somebody who is passing through. The responsibility is on all of us.”