Meet OL’s interim National Director: Chris Day
There’s a new face around Operation Lifesaver (OL). Chris Day started as OL’s interim National Director the first week of January. He’s taking over for Sarah Mayes who left the organization at the end of 2023.
Although Chris may be new to OL, he’s not new to rail. For the past four years, he has worked with the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), first as a consultant and most recently as an interim executive.
A journalist by training, Chris has extensive experience working on award-winning public affairs and awareness-raising campaigns. He’s previously worked in government federally and municipally, and in senior leadership roles for several organizations.
We asked Chris about his journey to OL and what he hopes to accomplish as interim National Director.
What have you learned about the importance of rail safety in your time working with RAC?
One of my roles while working with the federal government was as a senior aide to the Minister of Transport, which gave me an appreciation for the intricacies and importance of Canada’s railways and the importance they accord to safety. This has been reinforced over the years working closely with railways and their customers.
Our railways look at safety and sustainability together, and their support of Operation Lifesaver is one of the tangible ways they demonstrate their commitment to continuously investing, innovating, and improving when it comes to safety.
Safety really is job one for every Canadian railroader. Everything flows from there. But, of course, rail safety is a shared responsibility. We all have a role to play, and we can all do our part by respecting certain rules and keeping certain basics in mind. That’s where Operation Lifesaver comes in.
What was it about working at Operation Lifesaver that appealed to you?
I have been very fortunate to have had a rich and varied career to date. And everything I’ve done also seems to combine to lead me here.
Building on the work OL has done to date, I see opportunities to take the conversation about rail safety and incident prevention to the next level. Through education and awareness, research, and technology, we can help expand the conversation to reach the audiences that matter most and help stop track tragedies.
What do you want to achieve as interim National Director of Operation Lifesaver?
First and foremost, I hope to secure a multi-year funding commitment from Transport Canada. OL is an example of a hugely successful collaboration between government and industry. It helps prevent incidents and improve safety, with huge returns on investment. I will be focused on communicating that to the government.
I also want to ensure we are getting back in front of audiences that matter—virtually but also in person. The pandemic kept us apart. But we need to get back to face-to-face discussions about what’s at stake and how we can all do our part to keep Canadians safe.
We’re also living in an age where people are starting to talk more openly and honestly about suicide and mental health more generally. OL needs to be part of those conversations, because—tragically—too many people in crisis end their lives on and near rail lines.
And I want to ensure we are consistently challenging ourselves to be at the forefront of communications trends and technologies to ensure our education and awareness efforts are generating maximum value.
Why do you think it is so important that an organization like OL exists?
OL is unique in Canada, as it is the only organization that is 100% dedicated to reducing collisions, injuries, and fatalities on or near railway tracks. Given how important rail is to our economy and our daily lives, we need to be doing everything we can to get to zero in terms of lives lost and families forever scarred.
Our work’s not done. In fact, OL is more important than ever.