How much pay is your job worth risking your life for?

As part of our Project Money, we ask what is appropriate pay to risk a life. Photo: MedEvac71


When 16 sherpas were swept to their deaths on Mt Everest, the high cost of dangerous work riveted the world. Here in Canada, veterans have just won a lawsuit they say better addresses the cost of sacrifices soldiers have made. Today, our Project Money asks how we balance risk and reward.

"Work is our livelihood but lives should not be sacrificed for the job. Any workplace death or injury is preventable. And despite the progress we have made in work place safety over the years, we still have a long ways to go. Because every death is one too many.Every injury is one too many. The loss of life is tragic and every year, too many people are killed, become ill or are injured on the job. It takes all of us working together to protect the health and safety of co-workers."

Mike Davidson, President of the CUPE Winnipeg local

Mike Davidson nails it: Work is a livelihood, what we do to live. The President of the Winnipeg local of the Canadian Union of Public Employees spoke yesterday to mark Canada's National Day of Mourning. It honours workers injured, sickened or killed on the job.

Each year there are nearly 1000 workplace-related deaths in Canada. Most are in the construction and manufacturing industries, while the highest number of work injuries comes from the health and social service industries.

And as Canadians mourn the loss of workers, Mount Everest remains closed after the death of 16 sherpas sparked a boycott for better pay and benefits for the guides who risk their lives to help climbers reach the world's tallest peak.

As part of The Current's Project Money, today we're asking how to balance risk and reward and looking at the ethics of paying people to perform dangerous jobs.

  • Bruce Moncur is a retired soldier and veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He joined us from Windsor, Ontario. 

  • Sarah Wheelan is a workplace safety advocate and communications coordinator for Threads of Life. Her brother Lewis Wheelan diedafter being injured on the job. And she was in Callander, Ontario.

Chris MacDonald has done a lot of thinking on how to determine how much to pay for a job that is high risk. He is founding director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education and Research Program and teaches business ethics at Ryerson University. He was in Toronto.

Now it's your turn -- what's appropriate pay for dangerous work? If you work in a risky job, how much is pay a consideration for you? Can you ever be paid enough?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry, Sarah Grant and Deanne Bender.

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