Canadians Honour Fallen Workers With Day of Mourning

Going to work is something millions of people across Canada do every day. Whether you are working in construction or sitting behind a desk, no one should ever have to feel unsafe in their workplace.

Unfortunately, every year we have workplace fatalities in Canada. On April 28 we remember those who have been injured or have lost their lives with the Day of Mourning.

In Alberta we lost 144 women and men to workplace injury or illness in 2016.

On Parliament Hill and at government buildings across the country flags will fly at half-mast and there will be a moment of silence at 11 a.m.

What was known as the Day of Remembrance was originally launched in 1984 by the Canadian Labour Congress, and in 1991 the Government of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act making April 28 the official Day of Mourning.

It has now spread to over 100 countries around the world, in hopes that this day will help to establish healthy workplace conditions  around the world.

The latest statistics from the Workers Compensation Board of Canada shows that in 2015 there were 852 workplace deaths in Canada. They also found that there were 232,629 claims for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease and 8,155 of those were from workers 15 to 19.

There will be events across Alberta to honour the day:

Edmonton and District Labour Council
Amphitheatre in Borden Park at 12:15 p.m. For more details, please visit the Edmonton and District Labour Council's website.

Central Alberta Chapter and Parkland Regional Safety Committee
Red Deer City Hall (west-side steps) at 11 a.m.

Calgary Day of Mourning Committee
SAIT Aldred Centre at 11 a.m.

Teamsters Local 362: Supporting The Fort McMurray Community

In May of this year Fort McMurray experienced one of the worst disasters in Alberta’s history with a devastating wild fire.

The city issued an evacuation notice for 80,000 causing gridlock on Highway 63. Many headed out to oilsands operations north of Fort McMurray and the Fort McKay First Nation where they opened spaces for people to stay, while others headed south to Anzac and Lac La Biche. There are around 20 000 people expected to arrive in Edmonton.

Almost 2,500 buildings (mostly residential homes) were lost in the fire, but Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen said that, “85 per cent of the city is still intact.”

Add to that the tough economic times the province has been through and it made this one of the hardest times that Fort McMurray has ever experienced.

Teamsters Local Union 362 has a long history of being part of the Fort McMurray community, and we tried to help right away.

We did everything we could to alleviate any financial stress for Teamsters members either unable to work, or who were working sporadic hours. We instructed employers to not deduct and remit dues on their behalf for the month of May and June.

Workers who were unable to work due to the fires who were covered by our Teamster Health and Welfare plans, we were committed to ensuring that they were still covered, regardless if that member if was working or not.

Teamsters 362 also asked all Teamsters Canada executives for further assistance, so we could help each individual member affected by the wildfires in the future.

Teamsters Canada National Executive Board held a special meeting and committed to match all the donations collected from the four Joint Counsels in Canada as well as the Local Unions across the country. The total will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government has promised to match all the donations they receive.

We are also are dividing up donations to various school lunch programs in the community and are in the process of purchasing a side by side ATV for the local fire department.

Supporting the community then was important, and it is still important to us. During the holiday season our members from CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray were locked out.

They were left wondering what would happen to their jobs in an economy that is already suffering.

Bargaining for this collective agreement was not about wages – it was about respect for rights in the workplace. Employees have even been willing to take concessions in their wages and the union structured a plan to tie future wage increases to the economy, a plan that both parties had agreed to during negotiations.

Last week we reached a deal called Memorandum of Agreement, meaning the members will be able to vote on Jan.16. If they accept it they will have there first collective agreement as part of Teamsters Local 362.

Support for CEDA members from the community during the lock out

This holiday season was a tough one for our members at CEDA Industrial Services in Fort McMurray. Just two weeks before Christmas they were locked out, and stood strong on the picket line.

Last week we reached a Memorandum of Agreement, meaning the members will be voting on this on Jan. 16. If they accept, it they will have there first collective agreement.

Our members received an outpouring of support from the community and across North America on social media, which kept the spirits of our members up during that time.

The Wood Buffalo District Labour Council and Unifor Local 707A both offered their help to make Christmas a little more enjoyable for these members.

Both organizations donated a total of $4000 to the members, which was added to the first week of strike pay. They also brought a pizza lunch, water and showed their support on the picket line.

Our thanks to Steve Kelly, Secretary Treasurer of Unifor local 707A and President of the Wood Buffalo Labour District.

Need for Mental Health Supports Increase as Canadian Workforce Grows Younger

Canadians spent most of their waking hours at work: home is for family, solitude and sleep.

Because almost one fourth of the population is expected to experience mental health problems at some point in their lives, mental health support in the workplace is becoming more important than ever.

Canada is growing younger. In just 10 years, 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials.

And with suicide rates the highest among this particular demographic, more mental health supports are not only expected, but are a necessity to a healthy work environment.

According to Statistics Canada, “employees who considered most days to be either quite a bit, or extremely stressful, are three times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode.”

Especially with Alberta’s current economic state, workplace stresses are at all-time highs. Almost equally as alarming is many employees’ lack of confidence speaking to employers about mental health; in Canada’s 2008 Mental Health Strategy, the Canadian Medical Association “found only 23 per cent of Canadians feel comfortable talking to their employer about a mental illness.”

If you suffer from a mental illness, you should have the right to feel safe at work - especially if you spend most of your time there.

Providing more mental health supports and talking openly about mental health as the Canadian workforce grows younger is crucial to not just making employees feel cared for at work, but it can also cut the staggering economic costs associated with mental health problems.

Teamsters 362 has campaigned to get more mental health support in the workplace with our Make It Mandatory initiative. It is something that is so important for all Canadians.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “about 30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses.”

Awareness around mental health is growing, and as both employers and employees, it is our job to talk about it openly - no one should have to suffer at the hands of unmitigated psychological health in the workplace.