April 28 is the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or Injured on the Job. On this day, we take time to remember the workers we have lost. CUPE Ontario also uses the occasion to join with allies to fight for laws that improve and enhance worker health and safety across Ontario.
Across Canada workplace accidents are on the rise. This is deeply concerning since in our own province, we are faced with the Ford Conservatives enacting wide-ranging cuts that dramatically increase the risk of injury to our members, and to all workers in Ontario. In only a year, the Province has rolled back hard-fought labour protections, and the Ministry of Labour has ordered staff to stop conducting proactive workplace inspections in favor of an online system where employers report whether the workplace meets health and safety obligations. These two actions alone put lives at risk, as employers embrace the new Ford doctrine of removing corporate accountability.
CUPE Ontario lost four members this year to workplace fatalities. This is four too many. These tragic events must inspire us to do more to fight any and all proposed cuts to health and safety. Families deserve to know that their loved one will come home at the end of the day. Instead, workplace injuries are on the rise in Ontario. In March it was reported that lost time injuries have increased by 33 per cent since 2015, and in 2018 work-related fatalities rose to 228. But these are the official numbers. Our members experiences tell us that the number is likely much higher than that.
Precarious jobs are dangerous jobs, and the Ford Conservatives took away decent work laws with Bill 148, and cancelled the $15 minimum wage, leaving millions of workers trapped in precarious work.
Since this year the Day of Mourning falls on a Sunday, CUPE Ontario encourages everyone to take a moment to remember the workers we have lost. And please take some time to let your local MPP know that you are not satisfied with the current direction of cutting safety protections for workers. Or better yet, join with CUPE Ontario, and our allies, to resist these harmful and dangerous cuts that affect every sector, and every region of the province. Simple protections will reduce workplace accidents, and we need to see governments legislating more protections, not less.
We implore governments and employers to invest in prevention, including strong health and safety committees. In the meantime, CUPE Ontario will move forward on our wide-ranging anti-violence campaigns, continue to push the province to restore pro-active inspections, and we will continue to fight every day to see that those employers who refuse to fulfill their duty to ensure a safe workplace are harshly punished. Our lives depend on it.
President, CUPE Ontario
Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario