Farmers are providing input about farm safety legislation
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s ag minister is touring the province to learn producers’ concerns about farm safety legislation.
Devin Dreeshen began visiting with farmers on July 25 during his Farm Freedom and Safety Act Consultation tour. He will continue these conversations until Sept. 19.
The consultations are part of the conservative government’s promise to engage with farmers to create an alternative to Bill 6. The former NDP government passed this legislation in 2016.
“Farmers are basically really happy that they are able to have their say on what the repeal and replacement of the former Bill 6 will actually be,” Minister Dreeshen said during a tour event Friday, Drumheller Online reported. “It has been really positive so far.”
Schedule of Minister Dreeshen's visits.
Alberta Wheat photo
Other events are scheduled for Tues., Aug. 6 at the Westlock Hazel Bluff Community Hall from 10 a.m. to noon, Mon., Aug. 19 at the Okotoks Ag Society from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Weds., Aug. 21 at the Lethbridge Holiday Inn Express from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Alberta farmers want a farm safety bill that treats agriculture uniquely.
The industry should have rules to fit its subtleties, said Charlie Christie, the chair of Alberta Beef Producers.
“We would like to see a specific occupational health and safety (OHS) code of practice that’s unique to agriculture and recognizes that agriculture is completely different from any other industry,” he told Farms.com. “Some of the stuff in the current OHS doesn’t fit ag very well. It’s a big enough industry to develop its own code of practice with strong education and awareness components.”
The provincial government plans to introduce its version of a farm safety bill when the legislature resumes in October.
The bill will require employers to maintain workplace insurance for ag workers but give them the option to choose between a private provider or the Workers Compensation Board (WCB).
Farm employers should educate themselves about the pros and cons of private and public insurance, said Humphrey Banack, a producer from Camrose, Alta.
“WCB is no-fault insurance,” he told Farms.com. “Once an employee starts the WCB process, he or she can’t come back at you with a personal lawsuit. I think that’s a big part of the equation that isn’t being explained.”
Farmers unable to attend one of Minister Dreeshen’s meetings can submit their thoughts through an online survey until Aug. 31.