Twenty-five years ago, the federal government proclaimed April 28th as the National Day of Mourning for workers injured or killed on the job, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and has since, spread to at least 80 countries around the world. On April 28th, we take time to remember workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and incidents. The IBEW was originally formed by workers who wanted to improve safety in their workplace and today, safety continues to be a main focus of our Local Unions mandate.
This year, we are mirroring the CLC; marking the Day of Mourning by taking on the leading cause of work-related death in Canada. This April 28th, we are calling for a national ban on asbestos, a known killer that causes disease, suffering and death – all of it preventable.
It is estimated that more than 2,000 people die every year in Canada from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Since 1996, asbestos-related diseases have accounted for about a third of all compensated workplace deaths. Many, many more people die without compensation, unable to make the precise link between their disease and the source of their exposure.
Despite this, imports of items that contain asbestos, like brake pads and cement pipes, are on the rise. The lack of a formal registry of buildings known to contain asbestos also adds to the risk of needless exposure. Plans for new spending on infrastructure at all levels of government make it urgent to put a ban in place now to guarantee those projects are asbestos free.
This year, Canada can take a giant step forward with a ban on asbestos to make all of our workplaces, homes, and public spaces safer and heathier and the CLC is asking us all to join them and bring the voices of our members to help us win this important change.
Please join us and the CLC; working together, we can get the federal government to finally and formally ban this killer. It will save lives and prevent so much needless suffering. It will also take a large burden off of our health care system and workers’ compensation programs across the country. It’s time to make asbestos a thing of the past!