June 11th marks the 92nd anniversary of Davis Day. We can never forget our mining history and we know it is not forgotten in the hearts and minds of all Nova Scotians. Many communities hold ceremonies across the province and we encourage union members to join in those local community celebrations.
The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour is working hard to ensure we do all we can for workplace safety and to protect the rights of workers. The dangers of mining are many and when you look back at the history of mining disasters in Canada, the miners in Cape Breton and across Nova Scotia paid a dear price. From 1866 to 1997 over 1300 fatalities were reported in Cape Breton Mines. Hundreds more were reported across Canada. My own grandfather was killed in a mine in Stellarton, Nova Scotia in 1935.
These are more than numbers, they were workers and families and community members. Tragedy was not only in the lives lost, but for the families left without breadwinners in a society with little, if any compensation. Those who were injured could not work and the destruction of mines left people unemployed.
Together we mark this day to ensure the memories are not forgotten, that we remember William Davis and his fight for justice. Canada has some of the strongest health and safety laws in the world, but yet they are not used enough or fully embraced. It is time for negligent corporations, directors and executives to be held criminally accountable for the serious injuries and deaths of workers. Unions matter in the fight for safe workplaces
Two months ago, I stood at Province House at the Federation’s Day of Mourning ceremony on April 28th as we remembered all those lost to workplace injury or illness and to honour the memory of Nova Scotians who died at or because of work last year. From May 1992 to December 2015, 628 Nova Scotians died at or because of work. This record proves that together we must keep the issue and concern of workplace safety at the top of the political agenda in this province. You can rest assured that as the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, that we will do just that.
Let never forget our history, the sacrifices those who made before us or our resolve to make things better for all workers.