GrainsWest winter 2016 - page 7

Cropcommissions’ response toBill 6
Alberta Barley and the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) are committed to ensuring their farmer members are represented in local,
national and international matters that impact their livelihoods. Recently, the Government of Alberta announced Bill 6: The Enhanced
Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.
Both commissions have been actively working on this file since talks of it began shortly after the May 2015 provincial election.
Below is a summary of the work the commissions have done on Bill 6.
Prior to the May 5, 2015, provincial election:
The PCs
informally talked to farm groups about the potential of
removing agriculture’s exemption from the occupational
health and safety (OHS) code.
After the May 5, 2015, provincial election:
It became
apparent that this issue would be a priority with the new
NDP government, as it was one of its campaign promises.
At first, the commissions understood that the changes
would only involve removal of the exemption, with no
technical standards (rules and fines) and no mandatory
Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage.
June 29, 2015:
The commissions attended a meeting
with the provincial government in Edmonton. Very little
was shared at the meeting by either government officials
or ministers. This was the first formal meeting between
government and the two commissions.
Summer 2015:
It became clear the government was
considering a more comprehensive package of changes,
including mandatory WCB coverage, but it refused to
provide details.
July 2015:
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carli-
er promised there would be consultation on any proposed
changes, but that it wasn’t his legislation. Instead, it fell to
Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson.
July 21, 2015:
Carlier attended the AWC board meeting
in Red Deer where the board of directors pressed him for
details on OHS and WCB, but received very few answers.
Aug. 19, 2015:
Alberta Barley sent a letter to NDP cabinet
ministers, urging them to engage in farmer consultations.
Sept. 1, 2015:
The provincial crop commissions issued
a joint news release asking that farmers be consulted on
the possible changes to farm safety legislation. The news
release received widespread media coverage and was pub-
licized through our available channels.
October 2015:
In the fall edition of
, a compre-
hensive series of articles and commentaries was published on
the prospect of farm and ranch workers’ safety legislation.
Oct. 8, 2015:
Provincial crop and livestock commissions
met with government officials in Leduc where they again
pressed for more details on the contents of Bill 6. The offi-
cials only revealed that an announcement was coming.
Oct. 13, 2015:
The board chairs and management of AWC
and the Alberta Canola Producers Commission met with
Sigurdson and requested more farmer consultation and
further details on what would be included in the legislation.
She agreed to consult, but was not forthcoming with details.
November 2015:
During fall regional meetings, the provin-
cial commissions had OHS and WCB on every agenda with
speakers from the government presenting and answering
questions from the public.
Nov. 12, 2015:
Alberta Barley general manager Rob Davies
and chairman Mike Ammeter met with Carlier in Edmon-
ton to again outline concerns about the lack of clarity and
consultation surrounding the legislation.
Nov. 17, 2015:
The government announced Bill 6 publicly,
stating it would bring Alberta in line with the rest of
Canada and protect farm and ranch workers.
Nov. 26, 2015:
AWC issued a press release urging its
members to speak up on the incoming bill.
Nov. 30, 2015:
The crop commissions urged members to
again speak up on Bill 6 and call on government to delay
legislation and consult more with farmers and industry.
Dec. 3, 2015:
Alberta Barley sent another letter directly to
the NDP cabinet, urging government transparency on Bill 6
and advising further farmer consultations before proceed-
ing with passing the bill into law.
Dec. 4, 2015:
Nine Alberta ag and crop commissions, includ-
ing Alberta Barley and AWC, sent an open letter to Rachel
Notley, urging her to engage in proper consultation.
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