Every year on June 1st, we gather to recognize sisters and brothers who have been injured or made sick on the job and to raise our voices for safer workplaces and better treatment of all workers.

This year, in the middle of a provincial election with the Hudak Conservatives planning to destroy public supports for injured workers, it is important to move beyond recognition and into action.

All workers deserve a safe workplace, but any person injured at work, in any way, deserves a public system of support and compensation.

We must double our efforts for universal coverage of WSIB for all workers

We must fight policy changes being proposed at the WSIB that will deny compensation to more and more workers.

These changes include new injury assessment criteria that identify so-called “pre-existing conditions.” In other words, anyone who has ever had a bad back and subsequently has a back injury on the job would be denied compensation.

Further changes around aggravation, recurrences, permanent impairments and work disruptions, are all designed to reduce and deny benefits to workers injured on the job.

We must continue to fight these anti-worker changes and June 12th – Election Day in Ontario – is a big part of that fight.

Injured Workers’ Day was created in memory of the 1960 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 that implemented new safety regulations.

Decades of struggle by workers and their unions have created many health and safety regulations, laws to give them teeth, and an employer-funded compensation system for times when those safeguards fail.

CUPE Ontario’s Injured Worker Committee is working on building a network of Injured Worker Advocates – knowledgeable people in communities across the province who can help locals navigate the claims process.

And at Convention, the Injured Worker and Health & Safety Committees unveiled the new Report It website to help members and locals learn why and how to report workplace hazards, incidents and injuries.

Finally, if you are able, please join with CUPE sisters and brothers on Sunday for Injured Workers’ Day events around the province.