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National Day of Mourning 2017 for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job

Observed annually on April 28th, the National Day of Mourning commemorates workers who have been injured, killed or suffer illness as a result of occupational accidents and hazards.

This year’s Day of Mourning falls just days before the 25th anniversary of the Westray Mine explosion that claimed the lives of 26 miners working underground. Years of determined lobbying by the miners’ families and their union, the United Steelworkers, won new Criminal Code provisions in 2004, making it possible to prosecute employers for negligence leading to workplace death and injury.

However, in the past 13 years, only four employers have been prosecuted under the Westray Law. PIPSC joins with other unions in the Canadian Labour Congress in calling on the federal government to remember Westray and to help enforce the law.

The CLC says an urgent action plan developed by federal, provincial, and territorial governments must include:

  • training and directing Crown prosecutors to apply the Westray provisions of the Criminal Code;
  • appointing dedicated prosecutors for workplace health and safety fatalities, and training and directing police to apply the Westray provisions of the Criminal Code;
  • ensuring regulators, police and Crown attorneys coordinate with each other. Health and safety regulators must be reaching out to police when Westray charges might be warranted.

The federal government also has a responsibility to get its own house in order by:

  • training its own health and safety officers to view every workplace fatality under federal jurisdiction as a potential crime scene. That includes coordinating with police in their investigations;
  • ensuring the RCMP is trained and directed to consider the possibility of criminal negligence whenever a worker is killed or seriously injured on the job.

The call will be the focus of cross-Canada events marking this Friday’s National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job. Learn about your local ceremony at

The CLC is also launching an online petition available on the campaign site Mark the 25th anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster by adding your name to our petition asking the federal government to take steps now that will help ensure enforcement of the Westray Law.


Publish Date: 27-APR-2017 03:32 PM