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April 28, 2018

Day of Mourning – Ceremonies across B.C. remember workers

Richmond, B.C. (Saturday, April 28, 2018) — Thousands of workers, families, union members and employers are remembering those who lost their lives on the job with 40 ceremonies across British Columbia this weekend. Today’s Vancouver ceremony is at Jack Poole Plaza starting at 11:45 a.m., and is jointly hosted by the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED), the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) and WorkSafeBC. The Olympic Cauldron will be lit at 10 a.m.

A representative from the Vancouver & District Labour Council will introduce each speaker. Presentations will be heard from the Ministry of Labour, WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors, the BCFED and the BCBC. A mother of a fatally injured young worker will tell her son’s tragic story, and a 20-year-old young worker will speak about his life-changing injury at work three years ago. The ceremony will conclude with a moment of silence, followed by a piper-led honour guard procession and the placing of roses as a gesture of remembrance.

Yesterday, hundreds of students in 145 high schools took part in the Day of Mourning: B.C. Schools Project. Led by the BC Labour Heritage Centre for the third year, the project honoured workers killed on the job and educated students about the importance of workplace safety. Last year, six young workers died of work-related injuries.

In 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted 158 work-related death claims in B.C. Of those, 87 (55 per cent) were due to occupational disease, mainly from exposure to asbestos decades ago, and 71 (45 per cent) resulted from traumatic injury, including 28 from motor-vehicle incidents. Last year, the highest numbers of work-related deaths by industry sector were in construction (51), manufacturing (33), services (26), primary-resources sector (15), transportation and warehousing (22).

Worker deaths from traumatic injuries continue to decline in B.C. while deaths from occupational disease continue to be on the rise. Between 1996 and 2017, the death rate (per 10,000 workers) from occupational disease increased approximately 33 per cent. Between 1996 and 2017, the rate of deaths due to traumatic injuries decreased by 56 per cent.

The work-related death rate in 2017 for all deaths has decreased by approximately 30 per cent when compared with the rate of all work-related deaths in 1996 in B.C.

This is the 21st year the BCFED, the BCBC, and WorkSafeBC have jointly hosted a public commemorative ceremony for the Day of Mourning in Vancouver.


Please note: For the first time, the Vancouver Day of Mourning ceremony will be STREAMED LIVE via YouTube. To watch, go to this link at 11:45 a.m.

If you’re unable to watch live, the recording will remain online for the day.


Quotes from today’s speakers: 

Rosemarie Lachnit, mother of a fatally injured young worker:

“Nicholas died from brain injuries after falling several stories at a Surrey condo construction site. I think of him every day. My son should be alive today – his death was stupid and senseless. I’m here today because I want people to learn from Nicholas’ story. We need to do more to prevent tragedies like the one suffered by my son.”

The Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour:

“The National Day of Mourning serves as a sad reminder that we have to do more to keep workers safe. It highlights the need for all of us to make workplace safety our first priority. As the Minister of Labour, it is my priority to make sure that government supports those workers who’ve been seriously injured on the job and those who’ve lost a loved one due to a workplace incident; that they’re treated with dignity and respect. Let’s make safety a priority because everyone deserves to go home safe at the end of their shift.”

Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour:

“The National Day of Mourning is one of the most sacred days for working people around the world. Each year we come together to mourn those who have lost their lives, been seriously injured or made ill because of their work. But mourning is not enough. This day is also a call to action—to renew our commitment to healthier and safer workplaces, to eliminating preventable work-related tragedies, and to demand that injured workers and surviving dependents are dignified with full compensation. Today, and every day, the BC Federation of Labour will mourn for the dead and fight for the living.”

Ralph McGinn, Chair, WorkSafeBC Board of Directors:

“We believe every worker in this province has the fundamental right to go home from work in the same condition as when they arrive. Today reminds us that health and safety must be a cornerstone of workplace culture. Even though the provincial injury rate has reached a historic low, we can — and must — do better, because even one death is unacceptable. We owe that to everyone who lost their lives as a result of their work, and to their loved ones, whose lives have been changed forever.”

Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia:

“British Columbia’s greatest strength is the people who, every day, go to work to grow our communities and support their families.  They all have the right to a safe workplace and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that is provided each and every day.  Today, employers, labour and government come together to remember those who have been injured or lost their lives in the course of their work, and to reflect and re-commit to the role we all must play to ensure B.C.’s workplaces are safe.”


Please note: For the first time, the Vancouver Day of Mourning ceremony will be STREAMED LIVE via YouTube. To watch, go to this link at 11:45 a.m.


If you’re unable to watch live, the recording will remain online for the day.

For more information:



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