New Alberta statistics show that the number of workplace deaths jumped sharply last year
In 2013, there were 188 workplace deaths, up from 145 in 2012.
The jump is being attributed to more deaths caused by occupational diseases picked up by exposure to smoke, dust and chemicals -- 99 in 2013, compared to 58 in 2012.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan believes the number of deaths from occupational diseases is actually much higher.
"If the government and the Workers Compensation Board took the same step with other groups of workers, as they've taken with firefighters, then they'd recognize that there's a heck of a lot more people who are dying from work-related cancers,” he said.
Labour minister Thomas Lukaszuk dismissed the AFL’s concerns
“That’s playing with numbers. Because the number of people dying doesn’t change,” he said. “It’s whether you put them into one category or another.”
Lukaszuk says the government is working with medical professionals to make workplaces safer.