Labour council honours fallen workers at memorial service
Gathering recalls long time contributions by injured workers advocate
The Kenora District Labour Council hosted the Annual Day of Mourning
memorial service to honour workers suffering injuries, illness or killed
on the job at Lake of the Woods Cemetery, April 28.
The ceremony was attended by a gathering of labour council and union
representatives, city and provincial officials and supporters.
“We need to be vigilant. We need to train our youth and workers to
ensure health and safety training continues and lobby the government to
enforce legislated laws for health and safety,” Labour council president
Donna Wiebe said.
The speakers shared concerns regarding workplace safety and training
standards as people continue to succumb to illness, injury and fatal
accidents on the job as well as the impact these tragic occurrences have
on their families.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell noted even with all the safety
consciousness the incidence of workplace injury has actually increased
over the past decade and a half, reinforcing the need for ongoing
training, education and enforcement.
“You can never be too vigilant,” she said, referring to the recent B.C.
sawmill explosion in which two workers were killed and several others
Campbell noted the incident, the second in four months, was preventable
as the cause was attributed to the accumulation of wood dust that had
previously been identified by health and safety officials as hazardous
but not acted upon.
Federal NDP representative Tania Cameron commented on the importance of
maintaining a safe working environment for future generations.
It was noted the incidence of on the job injuries and fatalities occurs
at a much higher rate among younger workers than those with experience.
The memorial also provided an opportunity for many in attendance to
recall with fondness the passing of one of their own earlier this month.
Long time Kenora mill worker, CEP union member and labour council
injured workers advocate Ernie Craik, recently of Birchwood Terrace,
passed away on April 16.
Mayor Dave Canfield, who worked with Kraik at the mill for over three
decades, recalled his tireless efforts to secure better training, health
and safety programs and support for injured workers.
“These are things Ernie talked about long before anyone else. Ernie
travelled and donated his time, money and knowledge to fight the fight.
He dedicated his life to the cause,” the mayor said.
Ruth Bergman representing Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local
702 also worked with Craik for many years on the labour council.
“He was tremendous and a fantastic NDP member. His knowledge was
encyclopaedic and he could pull facts from memory of events from years
ago,” Bergman related. She also commended the labour council for making
a donation to Kenora Handi-Transit as a gesture that Ernie would appreciate.
The ceremony concluded as participates laid flowers at the memorial and
reaffirmed their commitment; reciting vows that ‘an injury to one is an
injury to all’; reaffirming demands for enforcement of health and safety
laws; denouncing those who place profits before workers health; and,
proclaiming the right to safe workplaces and respect on the job.