Livingstone-Macleod MLA, Roger Reid, says he's excited about his UCP Government's new Farm Freedom and Safety Act replacing Bill 6.
The tabled legislation includes an exemption for small farm employers, takes away farm workers' ability to form a union, and allows larger employers to choose between Workers Compensation Board (WCB) or private insurance coverage.
If passed, small employers, which are considered as five or less non-family employees by the Province, will not be required to have insurance for their workers, and will be exempt from all employment standard rules.
The Province held over 25 public consultations across the Province this summer with Alberta's Agriculture and Forestry Minster, Devin Dreeshen, and received over 1,200 entries in their online survey responses.
Reid says the tabled legislation is the result of a lot of time spent with Albertans, and alleviates regulatory burdens for small operations.
"There's enough risks and it's hard enough to make a living farming, and this year is a perfect example of that. Government shouldn't be stepping in and eating away at those margins even further with pieces of legislation that don't make sense in a farming context."
Reid says the majority of farmers and ranchers with hired staff understand how valuable they are to the success of the operations.
"Most, if not all of the farmers I talked to over the last year talked about the pieces that they had in place to protect their staff. Most of them had more comprehensive insurance than what they were able to get with WCB under Bill 6."
In the meantime, Alberta's NDP Leader, Rachel Notley, is arguing the UCP are repealing the right for farm workers to earn at least minimum wage, leaving a loophole that could lead to worker exploitation.
In a statement, the party says the new clause which allows small farms to be exempt from all employment standards, includes the minimum wage.
“No other jurisdiction in North America exempts any class of workers from earning at least some type of minimum wage for their work,” Notley said in a release. “Jason Kenney is more than undoing Bill 6, he’s taking Alberta back to pre-industrial revolution labour laws.”
However, Reid adds the Farm Freedom and Safety Act allows good operators to be free of extra regulations, while outliers will still be held accountable to take care of workers.
"I think Bill 6 was another example of, here's our worst case scenario, so let's lump everybody in there, and we had a lot of good operations that paid a very high price."Click here to see more...