Workplace-related deaths mourned

Nathan Liewicki
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Wreaths laid in honour of the 35 victims who lost their lives in workplace accidents in Saskatchewan in 2013 lie in front of the Moose Jaw and District Labour Council on Monday, which was recognized nationally as National Day of Mourning. 

Lawrence, Michelson and Boughen not in attendance

Gordon Hewitt said there are plenty of emotions whenever a firefighter is injured or killed on the job.

“It hits home a little more,” said the Moose Jaw firefighter. “A lot of times when we come here there are quite a few firefighters’ names that are read off the list. For us it’s just encouragement and a reminder to do better in the future.”

Hewitt was one of about 30 people who gathered outside the Moose Jaw District and Labour Council (MJDLC) Monday evening to observe National Day of Mourning.

Since 1990, Saskatchewanians have gathered annually to mourn for those who were injured or killed as a result of their work.

Stacey Lundin, president of the MJDLC, was one of two people who read off the list of 35 people who perished in workplace-related death in the province in 2013. Among those killed were a couple of firefighters.

“It's important for us to commemorate the memory of the people that were injured and killed on the job,” said Hewitt, who laid a wreath.

He added the laying of wreaths is a reminder that better things need to be done in the future to avoid more tragedies.

Although 35 people were formally recognized Monday, others also perished in Saskatchewan while on the job last year. Those 35 are only those recognized by the Workers Compensation Board as compensable workplace deaths.

Lundin said Occupational Health and Safety and Saskatchewan’s Attorney General could do much more to prevent more workplace-related injuries and fatalities.

“I think it's important that we protect people and when we know they are not protected that we need to get after the people who should be taking care of them,” she said.

MLAs Greg Lawrence and Warren Michelson were not in attendance, nor was MP Ray Boughen. Lundin said Boughen has never attended one of Moose Jaw’s National Day of Mourning ceremonies.

“It's unfortunate. They need to hear how this affects us on a daily basis. I don't think often they think back to the workers and the people that are left behind, and definitely those that are killed in the line of work. There are such a huge amount of people that are injured each year and they need to hear the frustration and the anger and the pleas for support to make this better.”

Lundin added that the colourful arrangements of the wreaths is not only a respectful way of honouring the victims, but important to recognize that the fight to avoid future workplace deaths needs to continue.

“Everybody deserves to come home safe at the end of their shift,” she said.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Moose Jaw District and Labour Council, Workers Compensation Board

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

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