The annual Day of Mourning on April 28 will look a lot different this year.
In the shadow of COVID-19, gone are the special community gatherings and sombre ceremonies, the laying of flowers and wreaths to honour those who lost their lives due to workplace injury or disease.
Instead – and ironically – we will mark the day placing faith and gratitude in our public health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic along with the thousands of other workers who, in many different ways, are protecting life as we know it.
These include grocers and restaurant workers, emergency services personnel, manufacturers of essential goods, construction workers building and maintaining vital infrastructure, transit operators, truck drivers and news media, to name just a few.
Our work has also been drastically redefined. Some people have lost their jobs, while others have been deemed essential. And the act of working has changed, too, with various precautions now in place – from the PPE worn by health care workers and the glass barricades shrouding retail clerks to the eerie lines drawn every two metres on the floor where customers would normally stand mere inches apart.
It’s a new world.
Last year, 140 workers in B.C. lost their lives to workplace injury or disease. Let’s honour them safely, wherever we may be, with a minute or two of silence, and at least two metres apart.
Al Phillips, president
BC Building Trades Council