The Kamloops and District Labour Council (KDLC) and Canadian unions are marking the National Day of Mourning by calling attention to the human cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more than a year, the world has faced unprecedented upheaval due to the pandemic.
“The virus and its variants have wrought havoc on our society and laid bare a troubling lack of protection for workers,” Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff said.
“Over the last year, we have witnessed how vulnerable we all are. This pandemic has shone a light on egregious gaps in workplace protections and exposed employers who choose to put profits over people.” Evidence from across the country shows the virus is spreading at work, not only in health-care settings but also in factories, meat plants, warehouses, schools, offices, transportation spaces and other sectors.
Yussuff said workers have had to fight for access to appropriate, effective protective equipment, COVID-safe practices at work, paid sick leave and respect for their basic health and safety rights. However, Yussuff noted, these problems existed before the pandemic and have resulted in millions of deaths each year from work-related injuries and diseases.
In Kamloops and across Canada, the Day of Mourning will, virtually, remember and honour the approximately 1,000 Canadian workers across Canada who have died at work or been injured on the job.
“No one should lose their life at work or be injured on the job,” KDLC president Lois Rugg said.
“Every worker deserves to return home to their friends, family and those that love them and rely on them.”
The Wednesday (April 28) virtual service will be available on the Kamloops and District Labour Council’s website — kdlc.ca — at 7 p.m.
Rugg said the community is also invited to decorate their vehicles with Day of Mourning signs and flags for a short vehicle parade through downtown Kamloops, leaving the Kamloops Law Courts parking lot at Columbia Street and Fourth Avenue at 5 p.m. Strict COVID 19 safety protocols will be in place and organizers ask that parade participants remain in their vehicles at all times. Organizers will provide parade route maps to participants prior to departure.
The Kamloops and District Labour Council represents approximately 3,000 unionized workers in the Kamloops area, from Merritt to Valemount and Chase to Lillooet.