CORNWALL – Participants huddled under umbrellas Friday morning to mark the Cornwall ceremony for the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job.
Changing from the normal tradition because of the weather, the wreaths and roses were quickly laid at the foot of the Day of Mourning Monument in Lamoureux Park before the rest of the ceremony was moved indoors down Water Street at the RCAF Association Wing 424.
This year’s theme was “One is too many: No one should die on the job,” as a number of speakers noted that 1,000 people die every year at work.
Mayor Bernadette Clement spoke about her decade-long battle on behalf of her client, Mitch LaPrade, to have his leukemia recognized by WSIB as a workplace related injury. LaPrade died in January, not long after the case was won, but the landmark victory is being used by other workers to have their cancers recognized, Clement said.
Cornwall Professional Firefighters Association Vice President Jason Crites detailed the risks being on the job as a firefighter and the problems with illness long after the fire is out. “There’s a long term problem with this occupation,” he said.
Using the example of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City, Crites said those first responders are still dying every year. “Just because they made it through the incident, doesn’t actually mean they made it through the incident,” Crites said. He said 2,000 of 10,000 first responders on the ground that day have confirmed illnesses related to 9-11 and that’s just “scratching the surface.”
Crites also noted that one Cornwall firefighter succumbed to a work-related “illness contracted on the job. We know it’s (illness and cancer) coming. We know it’s going to be worse that what it is now.”
MP Guy Lauzon and MPP Jim McDonell also shared their thoughts on the day.
The ceremony ended with giving out awards for a poster and poem outreach program with St. Lawrence high school (SLSS).