Alberta’s NDP government passed the farm safety bill in 2015
By Diego Flammini
A change in provincial leadership would spell the end of a farm safety bill in Alberta, the leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) said.
Replacing Bill 6 would be on the table if his party wins the spring election because Rachel Notley’s NDP government hurt the ag industry when they passed the legislation in 2015, Jason Kenney said.
“The NDP put the cart before the horse and, as a result, lost all public trust from farm and ranch families,” Kenney said Tuesday, The Canadian Press reported. “To rebuild that trust there is no acceptable alternative but to scrap” Bill 6.
If elected, a UCP government would continue consulting with the industry and introduce the Farm Freedom and Safety Act. The law would mandate that farmers have workplace coverage but give them the choice between obtaining it through the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) or a third party.
Members of the NDP government are concerned about Kenney’s promises.
The farm safety bill works for agribusiness owners and ensures parity with other industries, said Oneil Carlier, Alberta’s ag minister.
“It has been a lot of work, a lot of consultation right across the province, not just for farmers and ranchers and workers, but all Albertans, making sure that the workers in this industry have the same standards that other workers across the province, that other farm workers in other provinces, have had for decades,” he said during the Alberta Beef Industry Conference Wednesday, the Red Deer Advocate reported.
Albertans find themselves on both sides of the Bill 6 debate.
Albert Kamps, a producer from Lacombe, Alta., is in favour of starting over on farm safety legislation.
“If the UCP is willing to do consultation with industry before putting the law into effect, then I think industry would support that,” he told Lethbridge News Now on Wednesday. “The parts of Bill 6 that include labour unions for farm workers are very problematic, so we would have some concerns with those.”
But Eric Musekamp, who worked on farms as a truck driver, wishes to see Bill 6 remain intact because the WCB provides the best coverage.
“It’s the only way that employers can protect themselves from tort liability (The legal obligation of one party to a victim as a result of a civil wrong or injury). Private insurance is simply not able to do that, nor do they,” Musekamp told Global News on Friday.