Day of Mourning: Recognizing the human cost of COVID-19

On the National Day of Mourning, PSAC joins Canada’s unions in recognizing the devastating human cost of COVID-19. 

One year later, the pandemic has exposed many of the gaps in protections for workers across Canada. Workers and unions have had to fight for access to personal protective equipment, safe social distancing measures at work, paid sick leave and respect for basic health and safety rights.  

Many of these health and safety issues are not new, but they’ve been exacerbated by the pandemic, and they disproportionately impact workers from marginalized communities because many work precarious jobs without access to sick leave.  

Throughout the pandemic, PSAC has been working to secure safe and healthy working conditions for our members, wherever work is taking place. PSAC members have been exposed to COVID-19 at meat-packing plants, border crossings, federal penitentiaries, in hospitals, on military bases and at the office. We continue to fight for access to free personal protective equipment, proper training and paid sick days so that workers can stay home when they’re sick without the risk of exposing their co-workers, families and communities to COVID-19.  

An estimated 58 per cent of Canadian workers don't have access to paid sick leave through their employers, according to a report by the Decent Work and Health Network. That number rises to 70 per cent among people making less than $25,000 a year. 

In the months ahead, our health and safety committees will continue to monitor workplaces, making sure employers respect your health and safety rights, including the right to refuse unsafe work, and ensure that all workplaces are safe before reopening.  

PSAC will also continue to pressure provincial and territorial governments to provide universal, permanent and adequate paid sick leave so that nobody has to choose between going to work sick and getting paid.  

Take action 

To add your voice to the call for paid sick leave for all, join the Canadian Labour Congress’s phone banking session on April 28 (English only) to call on decision-makers to take action on paid sick leave. 

You can also download the CLC’s digital toolkit and shareables to mark the National Day of Mourning with Facebook and Twitter profile pictures while attending online ceremonies in your area. 


April 23, 2021