Alberta Gov't Commits to Bill 6 Amendments

Following several large protests and opposition from the farm community, the Alberta government on Tuesday announced amendments to “clarify” Bill 6 The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.

The proposed changes would:

  • make clear Workers’ Compensation Board coverage would be required only for paid employees, with an option for farmers to extend coverage to unpaid workers like family members, neighbours and friends;
  • make clear that Occupational Health and Safety standards apply when a farm employs one or more paid employees at any time of the year.

“We have listened to farmers and ranchers about the need for greater clarity. It has never been our government’s intention to interfere with what family members, friends and neighbours have always done on the family farm,” said Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, in a news release. “That’s why we will amend Bill 6 to make clear what was our intention all along– that farm families would be exempt from those laws, which were designed to protect paid employees.”

The province says it will hold consultations to help form the OHS code to be developed by 2017 to ensure “the unique workplace characteristics of farms and ranches are recognized.”

“We appreciate the concerns farmers and ranchers have raised,” said Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier, who was in Red Deer for the Bill 6 town hall meeting on Tuesday. “To be clear, Bill 6 is not in any way going to affect children doing their chores, participating in 4-H, or learning the family business. It does not prevent neighbours, relatives and friends from helping each other out during busy times. It does not apply to recreational activities such as riding horses or hunting on farmland…”

The bill passed first reading in the Alberta legislature on November 17. Debate on second reading started on November 25.

See the links below for more Bill 6 coverage.

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