The Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28, is a day we pause to honour workers who have lost their lives, been injured or made ill on the job. Sadly, 165 workers in Alberta lost their lives to workplace injury or disease last year.
On behalf of the Building Trades of Alberta, I’d like to offer our sincere condolences to the loved ones and colleagues of each one of those workers, and to all who have been impacted by worksite tragedy.
Without question, one of the greatest threats we’ve faced in our lifetime is the current COVID-19 public health crisis. Since the virus was classified a pandemic almost two months ago by the World Health Organization, we’ve all had to navigate through significant obstacles to worker health and safety.
Last month, the province deemed construction an essential service, and right now, information and guidelines on how to protect workers against the virus is changing rapidly. I’m proud to say I have not seen industry partners and stakeholders, from affiliates to employers and governments, come together so quickly to ensure those building and maintaining Alberta remain safe at work.
Because of this teamwork, there has yet to be any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 60,000 members of the Building Trades of Alberta.
COVID-19 will continue to produce challenges to members’ health over the next days, weeks and months ahead. With that, I remind you that you have the right to refuse unsafe work, and BTA fully supports members who exercise this right if they feel unsafe on the job site. We encourage you to contact your union local with any health and safety issues you may have.
BTA is committed to ensuring COVID-19 information continues to flow to the membership, from the virus’s impact on bargaining and worksites, to available federal and provincial supports for workers and our industry partners.
And while the pandemic is the dominant concern for us all, there are other barriers to safety on the job, so always operate with health and safety top-of-mind, because we all deserve to go home after a day’s work.
Please remember to watch out for yourself, and each other.
Executive Director, Building Trades of Alberta