On April 28, Ontario marks the Day of Mourning — a day when we remember and honour those who have died, been injured or become ill on the job.
The Day of Mourning is a time to reflect on the past and remember our fallen.
It is also an opportunity to look to the future, and reaffirm our commitment to keep workplaces safe.
This weekend, people across this province will gather at ceremonies in city squares, union halls and other locations.
Flags will be lowered to half-mast to honour loved ones, co-workers and friends we have lost.
We all agree even one occupational accident, illness or death is one too many.
Thanks to the commitment and dedication of those who fight for improved workplace health and safety, injury rates continue to decline.
Advocates in our businesses, our communities, our hospitals, our schools and our government, continue to work hard every day to ensure we have healthy and safe workplaces for the people of Ontario.
Tragically, despite these efforts, too many men, women and young workers continue to lose their lives, or suffer injuries or illnesses on the job.
These are real people with lives that have been destroyed or forever changed.
They are our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, and our friends and neighbours.
These tragedies are alarming and unacceptable.
That is why our government is committed to building a culture of prevention in Ontario.
Together, we have come a long way.
We have made some real, tangible progress in this province in the fight to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.
I’m proud to say that, since 2003, injuries per worker in Ontario have dropped significantly — by more than 50 per cent, making our workplaces the safest in Canada and among the safest in the world.
Much of that has to do with the hard work responsible businesses have done in putting a priority on creating a strong health and safety culture in their workplaces.
That means that thousands of Ontario families have been spared the heartbreak of having a loved one involved in a workplace accident.
But we cannot be complacent.
Despite this progress, too many people continue to lose their lives, or suffer an injury or illness because they showed up to work to try to make a living.
So, we have a duty and a responsibility to lead by example and make safety a priority in our everyday lives.
Our government is absolutely committed to preventing injuries.
If we work together — labour, business, and all members of our communities — we can achieve our goal of safer workplaces.
When our loved ones leave for work, they must come home safely at the end of the day.
In my time as Minister of Labour, many folks have asked me — what can I do to make a difference?
Individual actions make a real difference.
It could be as simple as speaking to your son or daughter about health and safety before they start that summer job.
If you’re an employer, you can have a safety talk with your employees, and listen to their safety concerns.
Let us all commit to taking action today, whether large or small, so tomorrow we will have no regrets.
Let’s remember those who have died, been injured or become ill because of their job.
And let’s honour their memory by re-dedicating ourselves to making sure Ontario workers go home safe and sound at the end of their day, for generations to come.
I am committed to doing everything I can to make this a reality, and I ask for your commitment, as well.
We owe the working people of this province nothing less.