Now more than ever, International Day of Mourning highlights dangers faced by health care workers during a global pandemic

April 28 is the International Day of Mourning for Workers killed, injured or sickened on the job — a solemn occasion in any year, but particularly so for health care workers like nurses during a dangerous global pandemic.

Health care is different from most occupations when it comes to protecting workers from the dangers of their work. Not only must nurses and other health care workers interact with their patients, but they bring to the practice of their profession compassion, humanity and an understanding of the value of human connection in health care.

This year has an specical danger, the likes of which has not been experienced in Alberta and Canada in over a century.

Nurses will never let their patients down — but the work of nursing, now more than ever, must be done with special alertness to the safety of health care workers and the people in their care alike.

While we will not be gathering together to mark this occasion as in the past and as we will do again in the future, health care workers and their unions will mark the International Day of Mourning this year by recommitting themselves to making all workplaces safer for everyone, in every year.

“There is a new threat this year, an invisible virus,” said UNA President Heather Smith, but the health and safety of workers must be paramount.“

“I hope each of you will reflect on the dangers we face in our work, and the realization that our workplaces can only be safe if we bring to them the right attitude, willingness to use  Occupational Health and Safety our Professional Responsibility Concern processes to identify workplace dangers to nurses and patients alike, and a determination to stand up for one another.”

“UNA doesn’t want any of you to be a statistic. When you go to work, work safely. When you go home, go home healthy and uninjured to your loved ones. Let’s recommit ourselves in this frightening, challenging year to safety every day of every year in every workplace.”

This year, the Canadian Labour Congress has adopted the theme #StopThePandemicAtWork and the Canadian Fedeartion of Nurses Unions is calling for action to keep nurses and health care workers safe from COVID-19.

In Canada, April 28 officially became the National Day of Mourning in 1991 after the passage by Parliament of the Workers Mourning Day Act in December 1990. Since then, the occasion has come to be widely marked throughout the world.

As Dewey Funk, UNA's Occupational Health and Safety Officer said, "when we have the ability to meet again, I want to talk with you, not about you. 

Stay well, stay safe, stay strong.