April 28 is the National Day of Mourning: Remember the dead, protect the living

April 4, 2018

For almost two decades the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has been a leader on occupational health and safety issues that affect not only our members, but all members of society.

The National Day of Mourning, also known as Workers' Mourning Day, 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, making April 28 an official Workers' Mourning Day. The Canadian flag is flown at half-mast at all federal buildings each April 28 from sunrise to sunset. The observance has now spread to more than 100 countries worldwide.

Each year on April 28, ONA members commemorate those who have been injured, made ill or killed at work, including Nelia Larosa, RN and Tecla Lin, RN who died after contracting SARS while caring for infected patients, and Lori Dupont, RN, who was murdered by a physician while working at a Windsor hospital.

Health-care workers continue to have some of the highest rates of injury and illness statistics in the workforce. Most health-care employers, CEOs, directors, officers and supervisors are not being held accountable by the Ministry of Labour or the police for the safety of health-care workers.

ONA members in Windsor-Essex recently launched a public awareness campaign to highlight the risk of workplace violence in health care. The first in a series of four ads will begin airing in the Windsor-Essex region today. They can also be viewed at https://youtu.be/GjM5_BiFWP8.

Join us on April 28 as we honour those who have died, been injured or made ill from their work, while calling for improved health & safety standards and enforcement to protect workers.


We encourage ONA members, their families and friends to join us and other labour leaders in marking Canada's Day of Mourning. Now is the time to start preparing to attend an event in your community.

Because public events allow us to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights before large public audiences, ONA will coordinate and fund registration fees for Locals/Bargaining Units that plan to participate, and where there are more than 40 member participants, an appropriate float/vehicle. Also remember that locals can apply for political action monies under policy 26.11 to Vicki McKenna before the event. Contact your bargaining unit president or local coordinator for more information.

National Day of Mourning ceremonies are held across the province. If you are looking for one in your community, many are posted on the Workers Safety and Insurance Board's website as well as the Workers' Health and Safety Centre Event Listing.

If you or your Local will be commemorating Canada's Day of Mourning in your community, please let us know by emailing webmaster@ona.org. We will post the details here for other members. We also invite you to submit any photos from your event - be sure to include the names and Local number with your submission.

See below for details about 2018 Day of Mourning events:

Downtown Toronto: The Day of Mourning event in Toronto will take place at noon on April 27 in Larry Sefton Park (Northeast corner of Bay and Hagerman Streets behind Toronto City Hall.)

York Region: The York Region event will take place at the Woodbridge Memorial Arena, 5020 Highway #7 (at Islington) on April 27 starting at 11:00 am.

ONA Resources:

Visit ONA’s Health & Safety webpage for the latest health and safety news, teleconnect information, important resources, and contacts.

Click here to order ONA's health and safety infographics “Working in Health Care IS Dangerous” and “Workplace Violence and Harassment: NOT Part of Your Job!” to display and distribute to your colleagues.

Unsafe workplaces can hurt patients, clients and residents. Hazards can put all workers at risk. Watch our health and safety video, "Report Hazards- Unsafe workplaces hurt patients, too."

Check out this workplace violence panel with former Toronto East General Hospital CEO Rob Devitt and ONA's Erna Bujna. Also make sure to watch our videos looking at Violence Prevention at Toronto East General Hospital and Violence Prevention: A best practice from Local 100.

Learn more about ONA's Human Rights and Equity team and their ongoing work here.

More Resources:

The Workplace Health & Safety Centre offers a variety of training programs and resources for Ontario workers. Click here to view the WHSC's Day of Mourning brochure.

The Workers Safety and Insurance Board's website has Day of Mourning resources including a toolkit, stories the ability to leave a public tribute.

Visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour's website for information about health and safety standards, prevention tips and important updates.

For more workplace safety information, links and resources, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Also visit their Day of Mourning page for information and materials.



ONA has prepared English and French versions of our National Day of Mourning poster. Below you will find two versions of the poster: a generic poster (PDF) and one with a blank space at the bottom (Word) which Locals can customize with their own message and/or event details. Click on the document name below and download the PDF or Word document of your choosing.

We have also created this shareable image that you can download and post to your social media accounts. Show your support and spread the word about this important day!