Worker Safety is a Shared Responsibility
April 28, 2022
Every year on April 28, we stop to remember and honour injured and deceased workers. We honour those who have died on the job, who have died as a result of their work, or who have suffered injuries because of their work. Four Yukon workers did not make it home to their families and friends in the last year. We mourn their loss and we recommit to actively protecting worker safety.
On the Day of Mourning and every day, Yukon Employees’ Union is focused on helping workers stay safe - a responsibility we share with employers and workers. As a labour union, our advocacy and education role is identified in the Yukon Occupational Health and Safety Act. It is also our responsibility to ensure our members get the support they need in their workplaces to perform their work safely. We do this by listening to concerns from members on workplace Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC), by responding to members unsure how to contact their JHSC, and by assisting members pursuing claims with Yukon Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB).
This year on the Day of Mourning we are thinking about our partners in safety – the employers we work with and the YWCHSB. In an ideal world, we would be united in putting worker safety at the forefront. Unfortunately, recent investigative work done by YEU has highlighted that some of our partners don’t share our safety standards.
We recently learned that the Yukon’s largest employer, Yukon government, does not have a JHSC which meets the requirements of the OHS Act. We know that JHSCs are the foundation of workplace safety so we immediately flagged the issue. We raised our concern with the Public Service Commission, with Richard Mostyn as Minister responsible for YWCHSB, and with YWCHSB itself. We expected to see our partners in safety act swiftly with ministerial accountability and corrective action. Instead, we wait with growing frustration while the government continues to ignore its own legislation and its obligation to its workforce.
Today we call on Yukon government and the Yukon Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board to raise the bar, to follow and enforce the legislation, and to join us in upholding the shared responsibility to protect all Yukon workers. Together, we must keep each other safe.
Justin Lemphers, Vice President
Yukon Employees' Union