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Honouring lost workers

Yvonne Yazlovasky knows firsthand the pain of losing a loved one in a workplace accident.

So on Monday morning, she joined others at McLaren Park Arena in Penticton for the annual Day of Mourning.

"I come every year to remember the ones who lost their lives or got injured," said Yazlovasky, whose son died in an accident at an auto body shop five years ago. "I think it's a good thing, and it's therapeutic to come out."

The brief acknowledgement of the day began with an introduction from MC Shelie Best, recreation coordinator for the city.

Best told those gathered that April 28 has been designated the Day of Mourning, a time when workers, families, employers and others come together to remember those who have lost their lives to work-related incidents or occupational diseases.

Among the statistics she provided were that last year in BC alone, 128 workers were killed on the job, with six of those young workers. Seventeen workers are also permanently disabled every working day.

In 1993, 756 workers were killed on the job, and 20 years later that number is 977 workers, which is a 29 percent increase in job related deaths.

In addition there were 245, 365 injuries in Canadian workplaces that were serious enough to force those people to stop working. And hundreds more die from under-reported illnesses and occupational diseases that go unrecognized in the compensations systems.

"We need to renew our commitment to eliminate workplace deaths and injuries," she said. "Managers and administrators must take responsibility for ensuring that the workplace is safe. It falls on all of us to redouble our efforts to protect all workers.

No worker should ever get up in the morning thinking that this will be the last time they ever kiss their partner or their child when they go to work."

Mayor Garry Litke shared a similar message with the crowd of city workers and residents.

He described the Day of Mourning as an emotional day and expressed concerns that the problem is not getting any better.

"We shouldn't have to be doing this every year, to remind governments they should be taking action," he said.

Members of the public were also invited to come forward to speak and there was a moment of silence during the solemn ceremony.

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