AWC urges farmers to speak up on farm and ranch workers’ legislation
Calgary, Alberta –The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) today urged all farmers to make their voices heard on the government’s new farm safety and labour legislation. Bill 6 would remove agriculture’s exemption from the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act effective January 1, 2016 and require farms to enrol in Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage by April 1, 2016.
In addition, the legislation would subject farms to the province’s Employment Standards and Labour Relations codes in the spring of 2016, while detailed OHS rules for farms and ranches would be implemented in 2017.
"This legislation will have a profound impact on our farms and way of life," Kent Erickson, AWC Chairman said. "It is critical that we have input into the regulations and how they are applied."
Erickson said Alberta’s farmers take safety very seriously and the safety of their workers, their families and themselves is paramount.
Prior to the provincial announcement, AWC representatives met with the Honourable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour to request that the provincial government initiate opportunities for meaningful consultation with agriculture stakeholders prior to the creation of any new regulations and standards.
"Minister Sigurdson assured us that stakeholder consultations are ongoing and that we would have an opportunity to contribute to these discussions on behalf of our members."
AWC supports the removal of the OHS exemption to improve education and reduce injuries and fatalities but believes more consultation is required to allow farmers to understand and comment on the detailed regulations. Erickson said the fact that some town hall meetings are already fully subscribed should be a message to the government that more dialogue is needed.
"We would encourage the government to take the time to hear from all farmers before moving forward," Erickson said.
The Alberta Government has recently implemented their FarmSafe Plan, a tool that helps farmers implement a health and safety management system for their farm. AWC is committed to working with the government on this program.
"AWC is supportive of the government’s town hall events as well as the new FarmSafe Program because we believe that education is key to preventing farm accidents from happening in the first place."
Farmers are encouraged to attend town hall meetings in their area or complete the government’s online survey at http://work.alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch.html. They can also send questions or concerns directly to the Alberta Wheat Commission at email@example.com.
Alberta Wheat Commission
P. 403.219.7906 l C. 403.813.6956 l Email
The Alberta Wheat Commission is a producer-directed organization dedicated to improving the long-term profitability of Alberta’s 14,000 wheat producers. www.albertawheat.com