“Today is National Day of Mourning in Canada. A day when we think about and remember workers who have been killed, injured, or suffered illness because of workplace related hazards and occupational exposures.
It’s a day that has a lot of meaning in my family. Alfonso, my grandfather, spent much of his adult life travelling across Europe, working in mines or in construction.
When he found work here in Ontario, as a labourer, toiling mostly on sewer and watermain projects, the work was backbreaking and extremely dangerous. One day, he was injured on the job when the underground site he was on collapsed. He broke his hip and several ribs, and he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
Alfonso’s supervisor gave him a chance to keep working – this time not on a construction site, but instead, as a maintenance person at the company head office. This gave my grandfather the chance to continue to earn a living. The chance to have the kind of economic dignity that we all deserve.
But not everyone, in that time or in the years since, has been as fortunate – and economic dignity should not be based on luck.
We share a responsibility to make sure every Ontarian can be at their best, achieve their dreams, and have a genuine shot at economic dignity.
The best way we can honour the people who build our province, often at great personal cost, is to make sure everyone is safe. That all workers – especially essential workers – are protected and cared for.
That they have paid sick leave, and health care they can depend on.
Today we remember all those who have been hurt or killed in the workplace, a day when we respect the fallen, and recommit ourselves to occupational health and safety and the dignity of all workers.”