The annual Day of Mourning ceremony will take place Thursday, April 28 at the cenotaph outside Williams Lake city hall to honour those who have died or been injured in the workplace.
United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 first vice-president Andrew Deley said the ceremony will start at 10:30 a.m.
Sharing statistics he noted 2019, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada. 882 were male workers, and 43 were female workers.
Among these deaths were 29 young workers aged 15-24. There were also 271,806 accepted claims (an increase from 264,438 the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 33,615 from workers aged 15-24.
“It will be very small, compared to other years, but we are just trying to get whatever we can going,” Deley said.
All of the mills have been contacted to lower flags at half-mast and invited to send a representative to speak at the ceremony.
“So far we’ve only had responses from Leonard Auger of WorkSafeBC, Williams Lake city council and Tolko Soda Creek manager Mike Dextrase and one of our Steelworkers, Jason Sim of West Fraser Plywood.”
Deley said because of COVID-19 some communities have not planned events and will only have the mayor laying a wreath.
For him, the day means everything unions fight for.
“It’s one of the most important things we strive towards, that everybody has a safe workplace. It’s a right and frustrating how much work, effort and time we still have to commit to showing people that safety is important.”
His background is safety and one of the reasons he became involved with the union via the safety committee.
As a supervisor he often leaned on new workers because they were fresh eyes and ask questions that other people have forgotten to ask themselves because they have gotten used to things.
“Because they are asking those questions you can rethink some of your safety methods or how you do jobs, instead of waiting for something to happen you are proactive.”
“It’s about making sure everyone is going home at the end of the day.”
USW Local 1-2017 represents 5,200 people, spanning from Fort Nelson to 100 Mile House and west to Smithers.