April 28 marks National Day of Mourning. Every year, this day is an important, humbling opportunity to remember and honor those who have lost their lives or suffered a workplace-related accident or injury or occupational illness1. As we navigate the ups and downs of this pandemic, this day is also an opportune moment to duly acknowledge front-line workers in all fields who have continued to serve our communities, even under rapidly changing and often adverse circumstances.
According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), in 2019, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada5. Given the additional 271,806 accepted claims for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by compensation boards, undoubtedly, the total number of workers affected is even higher5.
Today, we encourage you to join us and take a moment to pause in recognition of those who have suffered occupational illnesses or lost their lives on the job.
As Ontario considers increasing workers’ compensation for those are injured or become ill at work, we are reminded that progressive legislation is of utmost importance2. In fact, updated compensation rates would necessitate amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act2. Such a move would funnel more money towards injured workers and their families3. It is also complemented by recently passed legislation that has upped the maximum fines business can incur for violating workplace health and safety regulation or failing to protect employees4.
These pending changes reflect the provincial government’s broader goal of recruiting, supporting and safeguarding workers in order to make Ontario better to live and work in3. Such recent and possible upcoming changes reinforce the need for qualified HR professionals who can expertly implement legislative updates and policy changes in workplaces of various kinds.
Being mindful of these potential changes in law and policy, this National Day of Mourning brings with it a timely chance to reflect on how workplaces can be made safer for those who occupy it. Whether you are working from home, at an office or on site or in a hybrid model, today reminds us that employee health and wellness should always be top of mind.
This is a key point of intervention for HR professionals, who have the knowledge and experience to make workers’ health and safety an organizational priority. By spearheading ethical and competent practice of HR, leaders like yourself can play a key role in helping keep workplaces safe and healthy for all. In turn, as Ontario’s regulator for HR practitioners, HRPA aims to equip you with the skills to fully actualize your potential in creating stronger workplaces and protecting the public.
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