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Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to observe this National Day of Mourning with you for the first time in Quispamsis.
We get up every day, go to work, then come home to our families and loved ones. It’s a routine that is so familiar to many of us that we rarely give it a second thought.
Every worker deserves to come home safe and sound.
On May 9, 1992 twenty-six miners left for work at the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia and never came home again. Lax safety protocols, poor oversight and mismanagement resulted in an explosion that took their lives and left the Maritimes in mourning. The Westray disaster led to Federal Bill C-45, which amended the Criminal Code in 2004 to make employers criminally liable for negligence in the workplace.
Last year, nearly 10,500 New Brunswickers were injured on the job. Eight of those injuries were fatal.
Today is a National Day of Mourning to remember and honour those who have lost their lives or been injured due to a workplace tragedy. We will all observe this day differently. Some will attend a ceremony like this one, some will light candles or wear ribbons, and some will remember in their own, quiet way. We also have to look ahead and renew our commitment to do everything we can to prevent these injuries and loss of life in the future.
As business owners, employers, and employees, we all have a duty to think about workplace safety.
The Government of Canada is committed to continually improving the work environment of Canadians, and responding to the ever-changing needs of Canadian workers. Federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers responsible for Labour have pledged to work together toward fostering safe and healthy workplaces.
On behalf of my colleagues in Ottawa, I offer my sympathies to those who continue to suffer from illness or injury, and those who have lost a loved one in the workplace.
While we can’t change things that have already happened, we can learn from them. We can observe this Day of Mourning and remember those who have been injured or lost their lives. Together we can improve the working environment for all Canadians.