The image of the canary reminds us that, not so very long ago, a tiny yellow bird was the only safety device mine workers had against some of the terrible dangers of their workplace.
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees are often the canaries in the coal mine for the public, putting themselves on the front line of public safety every day. Just yesterday, members of CUPE Local 1989 in the quiet Port Credit library faced a trauma and a public emergency. None of them was physically hurt, but the incident reminds us that public-service workers often stand between the public and danger.
Each year, approximately 1,000 Canadian workers are killed on the job. One thousand! Hundreds of thousands are injured; untold numbers suffer from work-related illnesses, which may eventually claim their lives. We can do better. We must demand better.
April 28 is a day to reflect on these numbers and the real people they represent. For unionists and labour activists, it's a day to re-dedicate ourselves to our continued efforts to make workplaces safer, and to help workers whose jobs put their health at risk.
We remember these CUPE sisters and brothers who were killed on the job in 2015:
Dellis Partridge, CUPE 4946, Alberta
John Macleod, CUPE 1867, Nova Scotia
Alain Bissonnette, CUPE 503, Ontario
Harl Hawley, CUPE 30, Alberta
Nilo Sanchez, CUPE 59, Saskatchewan
Venancio Perez, CUPE 1483, Ontario
Stephen Penny, CUPE 30, Alberta
William Miller, CUPE 4705, Ontario
Mark Urbanowicz, CUPE 1000, Ontario (2014)