Unifor walks alongside families who lost loved ones in workplace tragedies on the Day of Mourning

April 28, 2024


Unifor members and staff joined the annual Steps for Life event in Toronto’s Coronation Park on Sunday, April 28, the Day of Mourning. The walk is hosted by Threads of Life, an organization that supports those impacted by workplace illness, injury and death and fights to end workplace tragedies.

The event hit record registration this year with more than 400 participants, raising a combined $65,000 to support the work of the organization. The Unifor team raised $4,800, including contributions from the national union and Unifor’s national staff union, and supporters, family and friends’ contributions.

Unifor’s Director of Health, Safety and Environment Joanne Hay delivered remarks to a large crowd of participants and supporters, recognizing organized labour’s role in effecting changes that protect worker’s health and safety.

“We must continue to push and demand that employers create and support robust safety programs and cultures within their workplaces,” said Hay. “Health and Safety is not optional. Workers deserve and have a right to be safe at work.”

Joanne Hay stands at a microphone, speaking to gathered crowd

Unifor Director of Health, Safety and Environment Joanne Hay speaks to event participants on the Day of Mourning

She emphasized the increased impact authorities and regulators could have in preventing workplace death and serious injuries if they developed a stronger approach to enforcement.

“We need new and improved health and safety regulations, and even more urgently, police and regulators must enforce existing laws, including the Westray Law,” she said. “We ask police leadership to work in a coordinated manner with Crown Prosecutors and Safety Regulators to create a harmonized approach that will see employers charged when they choose profit over workers’ health and safety.”

Unions recently marked the 20th anniversary of the Westray Law, which amended the Criminal Code of Canada to establish the criminal liability of corporations and executives for careless or reckless breach of legal duties that result in injury or death.

Despite the law being on the books for two decades, there have been fewer than 20 charges and even fewer convictions of corporations and their executives.

Approximately 1,000 workers in Canada die each year in workplace incidents.

To date in 2024, Unifor mourns the loss of MWF Local 1 member Jamie Knight at the Halifax Shipyard who died on February 19; a transport driver member of Local 4209 at Kindersley Transport on March 6 who name is being withheld at the request of the family; uncle and nephew fish harvester members of FFAW-Unifor Trevor Childs and Nicholas Skinner who died on April 21; and Jim Anderson, a driver at WM in Calgary who died on April 24, 2024.

Each step taken at the Steps for Life walk is to honour those lost and to re-commit to taking action to prevent worker injuries and deaths.

See photos of the event on Facebook.

Read and share National President Lana Payne’s statement for the Day of Mourning and watch her video message to Unifor members.