Remembering and Honouring Workers on Labour Day in Sarnia, Ontario

Remembering and Honouring Workers on Labour Day in Sarnia, Ontario

On this Labour Day, we gather to pay tribute to the workers in Sarnia, Ontario, who have dedicated their lives to the refineries. It is a time for remembrance, celebration, and appreciation for the sacrifices made by these individuals and their families. However, it is also crucial to acknowledge the potential health risks associated with working in such industries, including the development of pulmonary fibrosis and cancer.

In Loving Memory:

Today, we remember two remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark on the industry and community. Ken Buckingham, a devoted member of Local 663, dedicated his entire career to his work in the refineries. KelGor Limited was his beloved workplace, where he found fulfillment in every moment. His legacy lives on through the union hall, adorned with photos and awards that showcase his decades of unwavering dedication. Alongside Ken, we also honour Papa Stan Slack, the last recipient of the lifetime dedication award from Local 663. His ten-year-old award serves as a testament to his commitment and is a symbol of his outstanding contributions to the union. The photos and awards adorning the union hall are a tribute to Papa Stan Slack, a well-known figure in the community, and they proudly display the roots of my family's legacy within UA 663.

The Impact of Workplace Exposure:

While we celebrate the achievements of these dedicated workers, it is essential to raise awareness about the potential health risks associated with workplace exposure. Pulmonary fibrosis, a debilitating lung disease, and cancer are among the conditions that can develop due to exposure to industrial pollutants. Tragically, these risks can extend beyond the workers themselves, affecting their loved ones as well. My own family has experienced the devastating consequences firsthand, as my mother fell ill from exposure, unknowingly coming into contact with harmful contaminants in the work clothes of her spouse. Her illness and tragic demise serve as a painful reminder of the potential hazards faced by the families of refinery workers.

Workers' Compensation and Support:

If you or someone you know has been affected by workplace exposure, it is crucial to explore the possibilities of workers' compensation through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The WSIB provides support and compensation for individuals impacted by occupational illnesses. It is essential that affected individuals are aware of the resources available to them and take the necessary steps to ensure their well-being.

As we gather on this Labour Day to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the workers in Sarnia's refineries, let us remember the lives and legacies of individuals like Ken Buckingham and Papa Stan Slack. Their unwavering commitment to their work and the union has left a lasting impact on the industry and the community. While we honour their contributions, it is also crucial to raise awareness about the potential health risks associated with workplace exposure, including pulmonary fibrosis and cancer.

Despite the challenges and losses faced, I am proud to be part of our community in Sarnia, Ontario. The skilled tradespeople and health and safety professionals in our region embody resilience, passion, and unwavering dedication. I am particularly proud that my own daughter has chosen a career in the health and safety occupation, a field that plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and protection of workers, and my son has also joined the forces in the skilled trades industry, carrying on with his family line.

Through the collective efforts of skilled tradespeople, health and safety professionals, and the industry as a whole, I have witnessed positive changes and advancements in safety protocols and practices. These improvements give me confidence that the industry is evolving and prioritizing the well-being of its workers. 

Let us celebrate Sarnia, a community that not only cherishes its past but also embraces progress and innovation. Together, we can continue to strive for a future where the safety and well-being of our skilled tradespeople are paramount. On this Labour Day, let us remember the past, acknowledge the present, and look forward to a brighter and safer tomorrow for all in Sarnia, Ontario.

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