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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act introduced

Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, has been introduced in the Alberta Legislature.

“Everyone deserves a safe, fair and healthy workplace. With this bill, workplace legislation will now extend to farms and ranches. 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.” - Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour

If approved, the law would ensure that 60,000 farm and ranch workers in Alberta will have the same basic protections that other workers in the province have received for decades.  The Workers’ Compensation Act was introduced in 1918, nearly a century ago.  The first comprehensive Labour Relations legislation was put in place in 1938, a year before the Second World War.  Alberta’s Occupational Safety and Health Act was implemented in 1976, nearly four decades ago.

Changes would 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.
  • 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.
  • Including farm and ranches in Employment Standards and Labour Relations legislation.Farm and ranch workers will be protected by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations beginning January 1, 2016. Workers’ Compensation Board coverage for farm and ranch workers will also be mandatory as of this date.

Changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards and Labour Relations legislation will come into effect in the spring of 2016, following consultations with industry regarding exemptions that may be needed for unique circumstances such as seeding or harvesting.

Government will work with industry over the next year to develop detailed occupational health and safety technical rules for farms and ranches. The rules are expected to be in place in 2017.

“We know Alberta’s farmers and ranchers are concerned about providing safe and fair workplaces, and I look forward to our discussions with them as we work out the details on the best way to do it.” - Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Albertans wishing to provide input into the proposed changes or find out more information can attend town hall meetings to be held across the province this fall:
  • Grande Prairie area – November 26, 2015
  • Red Deer area – December 1, 2015
  • Calgary area (Okotoks) – December 2, 2015
  • Lethbridge area – December 3, 2015
  • Edmonton area (Leduc) – December 7, 2015

Albertans can also participate in an online survey, accessible on the Government of Alberta website. For more information on the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act and proposed changes and timelines, or to provide your input online, visit work.alberta.ca/farmandranch.

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