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April 28, 2023

Canada’s nurses mark National Day of Mourning


Silas says honouring workers means giving them the support they need

Each year, on April 28, the National Day of Mourning, Canada’s nurses join countless workers and their families to honour workers lost to workplace illness and injury.

Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), said the strain of the health human resources crisis jeopardizes true workplace health and safety for many nurses across the country.

“The pandemic has highlighted the life-threatening hazards nurses and health care workers face at work,” said Silas. “For many nurses working understaffed and overcapacity, workplace health and safety feels out of reach. Honouring lost workers means ensuring all workers have the support they need to truly be safe at work.”

In Canada, approximately 1,000 workers die as a result of their work every year. We know this figure is just the tip of the iceberg — there were over 270,000 accepted claims for time off due to workplace illness or injury in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available.

The CFNU continues to demand better from all levels of government to ensure nurses and health care workers are working safe hours with adequate staffing support.

“Health care workers should never be in a position where they feel they need to perform unsafe work, yet we know nurses are being asked to work up to 24-hour shifts,” said Silas. “With nurse-led solutions to the staffing crisis, we can create stronger measures to protect nurses from the hazards that come with working understaffed and overcapacity, and the dire impacts these working conditions can have on our physical and mental health.”