National Day of Mourning: PSAC honours workers on the front lines of COVID-19

On this National Day of Mourning, PSAC recognizes all those who put their lives on the line every day providing critical services to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus has already taken a terrible toll on front-line health care workers, first responders, grocery store clerks, and many more who continue to go into work so that others can stay home to slow the spread of the virus. This includes many PSAC members who continue to face the virus head-on – border services officers, food inspectors, staff in federal prisons and airport personnel, to name just a few.

That’s why we must continue to ensure that all workers – including vulnerable and precarious workers – have access to personal protective equipment, proper training and the supports they need to do their jobs safely.

Because essential workers are particularly at risk of contracting COVID-19 in their workplace, it’s imperative we reinforce and defend the fundamental health and safety protections enshrined in our collective agreements and jurisdictions across Canada.

PSAC will continue to hold employers to account and ensure that these basic rights are strengthened – not weakened – during this crisis.

Workers have the right to:

  1. Know about the hazards in their workplace and receive the training they need to be able to do their jobs safely
  2. Participate in decisions that could affect their health and safety
  3. Refuse work that could endanger their health and safety or that of others. 

In 2018, 1,027 workers across the country died because of their job. Many more work-related deaths aren’t counted by our workers’ compensation system.

Sadly, COVID-19 will permanently impact the lives of thousands more. Many of the illnesses and deaths from the virus were preventable, especially the countless tragedies in long-term care homes. PSAC will continue to pressure all levels of government to learn the lessons from this pandemic and ensure that Canada never again experiences the devastation we’ve seen due to COVID-19.

Traditionally on April 28, we come together to remember all those who lost their lives or were injured because of their job and recommit to protecting workers and preventing further tragedies.

This year, while we can’t gather in person, we can show our solidarity with front-line workers and remember those who have fallen by lighting a candle in our homes and sharing a photo on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #WorkersDayofMourning and #StopthePandemicAtWork.

Front-line workers are encouraged (where permitted) to share a photo in their uniform or personal protective equipment using the same hashtags. 

Together, we will continue to fight for every workers’ right to a safe and healthy workplace.


April 27, 2020