Premier John Horgan and Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, have issued the following statement:
“Today, on the National Day of Mourning, we join with people across B.C. and Canada to remember those who did not return home safely from work – the lives lost or forever altered by workplace injury or illness.
“In 2021, 161 people died from work-related illnesses or injuries in British Columbia. That includes 53 workers who lost their long battles with asbestosis and 46 who succumbed to other diseases, including COVID-19.
“We remember the 15 workers who died in motor-vehicle crashes and 47 others who suffered traumatic injuries, including in the horrific crane collapse that claimed five lives in Kelowna last July.
“This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating sawmill explosions at the Babine Forest Products mill near Burns Lake and the Lakeland sawmill in Prince George. Four people were killed and 44 others were injured in those tragedies that shook our province.
“Today, we remember and honour these workers and all those whose lives have been needlessly cut short over the past years. We know each and every one of them left behind loved ones who continue to grieve. We offer our deepest condolences to their families, friends and co-workers.
“Today is an opportunity for all of us – workers, families, employers and all levels of government – to recommit to an enduring culture of safety in workplaces, strengthening standards and enforcement, and fully supporting all those impacted by these tragedies. We must, and will, do better – for their sake.
“Our government is committed to making B.C.’s workplaces the safest in the country. We are improving workers’ compensation and bringing in new protections to help keep workers safe from the dangers of asbestos. To better protect B.C.’s young people from unsafe work, we have made changes to employment standards.
“A minimum of five paid sick days every year means people won’t be forced to choose between going to work sick or staying home and losing pay. And we are moving forward with a single-step certification process to protect workers who want to have more say about workplace safety as part of a union.
“As we remember those who lost their lives or suffered injuries, we remain focused on ending workplace tragedies so that everyone returns home safely.”