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Cities gather for National Day of Mourning for lost workers

Towns and cities on Vancouver Island held ceremonies today to remember workers who’ve died on the job.

Courtenay, Campbell River and Port McNeill were among the communities remembering those who have been lost.

WorkSafeBC says workplace injuries and illness claimed 161 lives in 2021. They add 99 of the workers lost their lives because of occupational disease, with 53 caused by asbestos exposure from decades in the past.

An additional 47 workers were killed as a result of a workplace injury, 15 died from a motor vehicle incident and 13 others lost their lives to COVID-19, according to Workplace BC.

In a joint statement Thursday, the B.C. government said the day is a day to remember and move forward to end workplace tragedies.

“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,” read the statement.

“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.”

The day is also very significant for United Steelworkers 1-1937, who remember fallen workers in their area.

The group brings two logging accidents to attention. They include the death of Darren Emerson, who was killed during a falling accident in the North Lake area of the Sunshine Coast in January.

They also remember Lonnie Hryhorka, who died Monday after sustaining serious injuries during a logging accident on North Vancouver Island.

The union says that while recognizing the day, they believe constant vigilance will be required along with everyday actions to make workplaces safer.

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