Two-and-a-half Workers a Week - The Price of Prosperity?

    AFL Set to Commemorate International Day of Mourning Tomorrow

    EDMONTON, April 27 /CNW/ - On the eve of the 12th International Day of
Mourning, which will be commemorated around the world on Saturday April 28,
the Alberta Federation of Labour called on government, employers and workers
to do more to prevent the scourge of workplace death.
    "Alberta has little to boast about in the area of workplace safety," says
AFL President Gil McGowan. "Workplace accidents are on the rise, despite - or
maybe because of - the boom."
    Communities and workplaces around the province will be taking time on
Saturday to remember workers killed and injured due to work, through minutes
of silence, ceremonies and other gatherings. The official Edmonton ceremony
will be at City Hall at noon. Calgary's event will also be at noon at Edward's
Place Park.
    "Alberta workplaces kill 2 1/2 workers each week. Is that the price of
prosperity?" McGowan asks. "If so, it is too high for me."
    In 2006, 124 workers were killed due to work, and an additional 20
farmworker fatalities, who are not included in official figures. "There were
over 181,000 reported accidents last year in Alberta," observes McGowan. "An
increase of 7.4% in one year."
    "Why do so many workers die, year after year, with apparently little
progress? The answer I come up with is because none of us make occupational
health and safety the priority it needs to be."
    "The government is in denial, and employers are too interested in their
growing profit margins to take safety seriously," notes McGowan. "To hear
government spin doctors' talk, you would think we have the safest workplaces
in the world. However, their rhetoric is made up of misleading statistics and
hollow promises."
    McGowan argues accidents are on the rise because workplaces are too busy
and corners are being cut on safety. "Employers have the money right now to
ensure safety equipment and procedures are in place. By not doing it, they are
failing in their legal and moral responsibility."
    Workers are not bystanders in the problem, McGowan notes. "Only once in a
generation do workers have the economic leverage to insist on safer
workplaces. Workers in Alberta need to take advantage of this boom to stand up
for our rights - we need to demand more action on safety."

                     12th International Day of Mourning


    What is Day of Mourning?

    April 28 is recognized worldwide as a day to remember and honour workers
who were killed or injured at or because of work.

    -  Day of Mourning began in Canada, in 1984, by the Canadian labour
    -  April 28 was chosen because that was the date in 1914 when the first
       comprehensive workers' compensation act was passed.
    -  In 1991, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the day as
       National Day of Mourning, due to the lobbying efforts of Canadian
       unions and the NDP.
    -  In 1996, it became the International Day of Mourning and now over 70
       countries participate in remembering fallen workers.

    Alberta Workplace Fatalities

    -  In 2006, 124 workers were killed, plus 20 farmworkers
    -  In 2005, 144 workers were killed, plus 14 farmworkers
    -  This is the 10th straight year with more than 100 fatalities
    -  613 workers have been killed in the last five years
    -  Since 1905, 9,466 workers have been killed due to work (not including
    -  According to Statistics Canada, Alberta has the fourth highest
       fatality rate in Canada (deaths per 100,000 workers):
       -  Territories: 27.4
       -  Newfoundland: 11.7
       -  B.C.: 8.9
       -  Alberta: 8.0
       -  Ontario 6.5
       -  Quebec: 6.0
       -  PEI: 1.5 (lowest in Canada)

    Alberta Safety Statistics

    -  Number of reported workplace accidents, 2006: 181,159
       -  An increase of 7.4% from 2005
       -  Up 23.8% since 2000
    -  Number of person/days lost to injury, 2006: 1,477,000 (up 9.7% from
    -  Percentage drop in WCB Premiums 2005 to 2006: 9.0%

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan at (780) 483-3021 (Wk) or (780)
218-9888 (Cell); Jason Foster at (780) 483-3021 (Wk) or (780) 910-1167 (Cell)

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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