On Monday evening the Yorkton and District Labour Council (YDLC) honoured the 35 Saskatchewan workers who lost their lives on the job in 2013.
The brief candlelight vigil took place outside the Council’s office on Broadway Street under miserable conditions.
“No matter what the weather, these people sacrificed their lives, we can stand out in the rain and wind to honour them,” said Maryann Federko, YDLC president.
While the number of workplace injuries and deaths were down significantly from 2012, Saskatchewan remains second only to Manitoba in time-loss claims.
The 35 deaths was an improvement from an all time high of 60 the previous year and injury claims dropped by about six per cent, from 33,000 to 31,000.
Federko said employers and the government have to take responsibility for the situation.
“Every year we go through this process saying ‘one death is too many,’ but nothing gets done,” she said. “[Occupational Health and Safety rules] are just not being enforced properly.”
Others point to cultural attitudes that must change.
“For whatever reason Saskatchewan residents have typically not looked at risk or managed risk and hazards in the right way,” Phillio Germain, vice-president of prevention and employer services at the Workers Compensation Board, told the Regina Leader-Post when StatsCan released its January 2014 report on the leading causes of death in Canada. “It seems to be cultural to just get out and do what you’re doing and just accept the fact that sometimes when you do things that sometimes you get injured.”