Statement by the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, marking the National Day of Mourning


April 28, 2018                    Gatineau, Quebec                    Employment and Social Development Canada

“Each year on the National Day of Mourning, we pay tribute to those workers who have lost their lives, been injured, or suffered from physical or mental illness either on the job or due to a work-related tragedy. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to offer my sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims who have been greatly affected by these tragedies.

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

We must also remember that not all workplace injuries are physical. Harassment and violence of any kind at work have serious consequences not only for workers, but also for their families, friends and colleagues. These behaviours must never be tolerated. To help put an end to harassment and sexual violence in federally regulated workplaces, our government has introduced Bill C-65. This framework will help prevent incidents; respond effectively to these incidents when they do occur; and support victims, survivors and employers. But no government can fix this problem alone. We live in a culture where power imbalances create tolerance for these kinds of unacceptable behaviours. It will take all of us—employers, employees, colleagues, family members and friends—to do better, and to change this culture.

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.

Over the past two years, under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, our government has brought in new measures to modernize the Canada Labour Code and better support Canadian workers and the businesses that employ them. New compliance and enforcement tools include new monetary penalties and the authority to publicly name violators.

Last year, our government committed 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. In 2017, our government also introduced amendments to occupational health and safety regulations on asbestos, in addition to the broader Government of Canada strategy to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018 which includes new regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, updates to national building codes to prohibit the use of asbestos in new construction and renovation projects across Canada and support for listing chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention as a hazardous material.

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.

Today, as we lower Canadian flags across the country to honour our loved ones, I invite everyone to take a moment to reflect on the thousands of hard‑working Canadians affected by workplace accidents and to remember those we have lost. Let’s remember that every worker has the right to return home safe and healthy at the end of their work day.”

Associated Links

National Day of Mourning

Workplace health and safety

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

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Emily Harris
Communications Advisor
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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