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Today marks the National Day of Mourning.

Ceremonies across Canada, including outside BC’s Legislature in Victoria, saw workers, families, employers, and others gather to remember those who did not return home safely from work.

WorkSafe BC says 161 people died from work-related illnesses or injuries in BC last year, including 53 workers who lost their long battles with asbestosis and 46 who succumbed to other diseases, including COVID-19.

In 2021, six workplace-related deaths were recorded in Greater Victoria, with four in the Cowichan Valley and two in Nanaimo. Farther north, the Strathcona and Mount Waddington districts saw four deaths each.

The data is alarming and prompting WorkSafe BC to renew its commitment to creating safer workplaces, as echoed by Premier John Horgan and Labour Minister Harry Bains in a Thursday statement.

“Today is an opportunity for all of us—workers, families, employers and all levels of government—to recommit to an enduring culture of safety in workplaces, strengthening standards and enforcement, and fully supporting all those impacted by these tragedies,” they wrote.

“We must, and will, do better—for their sake.”

Horgan and Bains say the BC government “is committed to making BC’s workplaces the safest in Canada,” citing recent changes to better protect young workers and those dealing with asbestos on the job.

They also say this year marks the 10th anniversary of the sawmill explosions in northern BC, near Burns Lake and Prince George.

“Four people were killed and 44 others were injured in those tragedies that shook our province,” Horgan and Bains recalled.

More recently, a forestry worker passed away following a logging incident on northern Vancouver Island, near Port McNeill.

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 says 46-year-old Lonnie Hryhroka was “seriously injured” on April 13th while on the job working for Holbrook Dyson Logging.

According to the union, Hryhroka succumbed to his injuries at the North Island Hospital in Campbell River this past Monday, calling it “a heartbreaking and unnecessary loss.”

“As we remember those who lost their lives or suffered injuries, we remain focused on ending workplace tragedies so that everyone returns home safely,” Horgan and Bains added.

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