The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act was introduced today to the Alberta Legislature.
“Everyone deserves a safe, fair and healthy workplace. With this bill, workplace legislation will now extend to farms and ranches,” said Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Lori Sigurdson. “The rules we implement must respect the unique qualities of the farm and ranch industry, and I look forward to working with industry members to develop rules that make sense.”
According to the government release, if the bill is approved, changes will include:
- Ensuring farms and ranches are subject to Occupational Health and Safety legislation to prevent farm and ranch incidents that can result in injury or death (beginning January 1, 2016).
- Providing Workers’ Compensation Board insurance coverage so that workers can continue to support their families if they are injured on the job, and protecting farm and ranch owners against the impact of workplace injuries and illness (mandatory as of January 1, 2016).
- Including farm and ranches in Employment Standards and Labour Relations legislation (coming into effect in the spring of 2016, after potential exemption consultations).
“We know Alberta’s farmers and ranchers are concerned about providing safe and fair workplaces,” said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oneil Carlier, “and I look forward to our discussions with them as we work out the details on the best way to do it.”
The Alberta Federation of Agriculture responded to the announcement saying such changes will require significant collaboration and adaptation.
“Our position is that WCB is a valuable risk management tool that provides protection over and above anything else currently available for farm workers and farm owners,” said AFA President Lynn Jacobson in a release. “On the OHS side, we need to understand the implications of new technical requirements to which farmers will be subject. The relationship between WCB, OHS and farm safety also needs study. We’d like to see a gradual implementation of the OHS changes, supported by extensive producer education and awareness.”
Town hall meetings will be held this fall, to allow Albertans the opportunity to propose changes or ask questions (register online). An online survey will be available shortly, and any questions/comments can be submitted to [email protected].