April 28 is the National Day of Mourning

April 13, 2022

In 2022, we observe the third National Day of Mourning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exacerbated preexisting problems in our health-care system and has taken a tremendous toll on the health and well-being of front-line health-care workers, from burnout to PTSD and more.

The National Day of Mourning is observed each year in Canada on April 28, to commemorate those who have been injured, made ill or killed while on the job due to workplace hazards or incidents. The observance began in 1984 and it was officially declared an annual day of remembrance the following year by the Canadian Labour Congress. In 1991, the day became a national observance, when the Workers’ Mourning Day Act was passed.

Each year on April 28, ONA members, staff and colleagues commemorate those who have been injured, made ill or killed at work. We honour ONA members, including Brian Beattie, who died due to COVID-19; a member who passed away in a work-related car accident; Nelia Laroza and Tecla Lin who died after contracting SARS; and Lori Dupont, who was murdered while working at a Windsor hospital. The list of members who have passed away due to work-related issues sadly continues to grow.

The Ontario Nurses' Association has been a leader in occupational health and safety issues that affect not only our members, but everyone in society. We will continue to advocate for members’ health and safety at the government, employer and Bargaining Unit levels.

Workplace injuries, deaths and illnesses are preventable.


We encourage ONA members, staff and family and friends to join us and other labour leaders in marking the National Day of Mourning.

  • Labour Council Day Of Mourning Ceremonies 2022 - York Region (April 28, 2022 | 11:00 AM | Woodbridge Memorial Arena (Islington & Hwy7) | Woodbridge, ON, Canada)
  • Labour Council Day Of Mourning Ceremonies 2022 - Toronto (April 28, 2022 | 12:00 PM | Larry Sefton Park (just behind City Hall) | Toronto, ON, Canada)

Are you participating in an event in your community (virtual or in-person)? Email digital@ona.org, so we can add it to our list.

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Mental Health Injuries

When we think about workplace injuries, we often consider the physical wounds – broken bones, cuts, burns.

Or we think about infections – SARS and COVID. Thousands of health-care workers have become ill and died.

But what COVID has also brought on to our dedicated health-care workforce is stress, higher job demands, burnout, lower job control, moral injury – all factors that contribute to mental health concerns.

COVID’s unprecedented circumstances have increased the risk of PTSD, depression, substance misuse and even suicide among nurses and health-care professionals.

Here are the facts:

  • Seven in 10 health-care workers reported worsening mental health during the pandemic, according to a Stats Canada survey.
  • In a Mental Health Canada Survey conducted last year, 93% of nurses reported stress; 86% reported experiencing anxiety; 76% reported exhaustion and burnout and 75% said they were overwhelmed.

These stats are very troubling.

The impact the pandemic has had on health-care workers’ mental health is deeply concerning and action must be taken immediately to curb these disturbing trends.

We do have solutions that can help our colleagues through this challenging time.

The government, employers, unions and associations must work together to instill early intervention and supports. These can include:

  • Increasing the level of mental health supports for nurses and health-care workers.
  • Improving access to mental health training and enhance coping strategies.
  • Implementing evidence-based return-to-work programs for workers.

But the most important thing we can do is to fix the conditions that are contributing to this situation in the first place.

I’m talking about chronic understaffing that is putting incredible pressure on workers to care for more and more patients with shrinking supports.

We must act now to put in place policies that improve health-care staffing and ensure the right skill mix.

There is so much that must be done to support and improve mental health in nurses and health-care professionals.

The threats to mental health are far-reaching and affect literally thousands who have been traumatized during the pandemic.

If you need assistance with health and safety in your workplace, please contact your Bargaining Unit President.