Joint Statement by Ministers Hajdu and Wilson-Raybould on National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job


Joint Statement by Ministers Hajdu and Wilson-Raybould on National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job

April 27, 2017                                     Ottawa, Ontario

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, made the following statement today on the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job.

“Today, as we mark the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, we recognize the importance of ensuring that all workers are protected from harm.

Millions of Canadians go to work every day, expecting to return home safely, and so they should. Everyone has the right to a healthy and safe working environment. Sadly, not all workplaces are safe. Thousands of Canadians are killed, injured, or suffer workplace-related illnesses every year on the job.

On this day, we are reminded of why governments must work diligently to protect the health and safety of people at work.

Today takes on special significance as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Westray mine disaster and remember the 26 miners who lost their lives in that underground explosion on May 9, 1992.

That tragedy ultimately led to the creation of the “Westray” provision in the Criminal Code, which imposes upon people who direct the work of others the legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to workers or the public. The violation of this duty can lead to a conviction for criminal negligence and significant penalties, including imprisonment of up to 10 years where bodily harm results, or up to life imprisonment where death ensues.

In marking the 25th anniversary of Westray, our government commits to working with the Canadian Labour Congress and its members, with employers, and with our provincial and territorial partners, to help ensure that the Westray provision is applied effectively. We will do more to ensure that labour inspectors and law enforcement officials are properly trained in the provisions of the law, and that they coordinate effectively to ensure that the possibility of a charge for criminal negligence resulting in a serious injury or death is not overlooked. We will promote the sharing of best practices in investigating workplace fatalities across federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.

Our government recognizes that more can and must always be done to make our workplaces safe, and to give Canadian workers confidence in the laws that exist to protect them.

Our government announced last month in Budget 2017 new measures to modernize the Canada Labour Code and better support Canadian workers and the businesses that employ them. The new compliance and enforcement tools include new administrative monetary penalties and the authority to publicly name violators.

We are also currently working with provinces and territories to harmonize occupational health and safety regulations on such issues as personal protective equipment requirements, standards, training, information-sharing and reporting.

On this significant day, we remember those who have lost their lives or been injured at work, particularly those involved in the Westray disaster, and we reaffirm the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensuring healthy and safe workplaces for all Canadian workers.”

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For more information please visit

Budget 2017

Criminal Code s. 217.1, s. 219, s. 220 and s.221

National Day of Mourning

Workplace health and safety

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

For more information, media may contact:

Matt Pascuzzo
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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David Taylor
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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