POLITICS
04/28/2013 11:49 EDT | Updated 06/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Day of mourning honours Nova Scotia workers lost on the job

HALIFAX - More than three years ago, Paulette Raymond's younger brother went to work at a Halifax-area container terminal and never came home.

"I miss him every single day of my life," said Raymond on Sunday of 45-year-old Tommy Raymond, who died after being run over by a tractor trailer in September 2009.

Speaking at a ceremony to mourn those injured or killed on the job, Raymond wept as she recalled diving for coins as a child in the fountain at the Halifax Public Gardens with her brother.

"That is one of my favourite memories. I miss so many things about my brother," she said. "If I could ask one thing of all of you today it would be to remember my brother... remember that a split-second unsafe decision at work cost him his life.

"My family could be your family. Please, please work safe."

Raymond was one of dozens who gathered under sunny skies at Province House to mark the annual national day of mourning.

People in military uniforms, politicians and families bowed their heads for a moment of silence as 32 tiny Nova Scotia flags fluttered in the wind — one for each person killed while working in the province in 2012.

Several workers who were operating a crane on a nearby street stopped their operations to participate in the moment of silence.

More than 20 wreaths bursting with colourful flowers were propped up behind the flags after the ceremony to commemorate the workers.

Kelly Murphy, executive vice-president of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, said workplace injuries and deaths should be treated like crime scenes and those responsible should be prosecuted.

"Laws must be enforced and the criminal code must be used," Murphy said, capturing a round of applause. "It needs to be used to send a strong signal to the negligent employers who are wilfully placing their workers in danger."

There have been 11 workers killed in the province so far this year, seven of whom were fishermen.

In Lunenburg, N.S., Premier Darrell Dexter spoke at another ceremony at the at Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic honouring those fishermen.

Five young fishermen were lost at sea after their boat capsized in rough weather in February.

In Halifax, Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra said fishing is part of the province's heritage, but it's also one of the most dangerous occupations.

"Since 2009, 17 fishermen have died at sea. One is too many."