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This morning, CUPE Ontario’s 50th annual Convention paused to recognize Injured Workers’ Day.

Starting in 1984, June 1st has been a day to draw attention to the decades of struggle by injured workers for fairness and justice. Speaking from the podium, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn reminded members that the struggle began in 1960, following the Hoggs Hollow tragedy, in which five Italian workers were killed when the tunnel they were working in filled with fire and mud.

Community outrage sparked a Royal Commission, which implemented new safety regulations.

However, by the 1970s, workers recognized major problems with the compensation system and in May 1974 met in Toronto to form the Union of Injured Workers (UIW) to change and improve the system. They gained support from community legal clinics, NDP members and the community at large and have worked tirelessly to win an independent appeals system.

On June 1, 1983, more than 3000 injured workers, families and supporters showed up at a government committee meeting that was responsible for developing a new compensation act. The huge number of people meant the meeting had to be moved to the grounds of Queen’s Park. Never before had a government committee been held on the grounds and steps of the legislature.

A year later, a new compensation act was introduced and “Injured Workers’ Day” was proclaimed.

We applaud the dedication of so many injured workers and allies whose tireless work has given Ontarians a public compensation system, and we recommit to working with injured worker groups and through CUPE Ontario’s Injured Workers Advocacy Committee to continue this important work.