The Potential Impact of Alberta’s Proposed Farm Safety Legislation
On Nov. 17, 2015, Alberta’s Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson introduced Bill 6, which could impact approximately 60,000 farms and ranches as well as 43,000 agricultural workers.
Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, aims to safeguard workers by extending provincial safety regulations to the agriculture industry and requiring worker’s compensation coverage. If passed, the bill would do the following:
- Subject farms and ranches to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation in an effort to prevent injury or death (effective Jan.1, 2016). Currently, Alberta is the only province where this type of legislation does not apply.
- Make Worker’s Compensation Board coverage mandatory in order to financially protect workers following any injuries (effective Jan.1, 2016). Currently, less than 5 per cent of Alberta’s farms carry this type of coverage.
- Include farms and ranches in Employment Standards and Labour Relations legislation (effective spring 2016). Alberta’s agricultural industry is currently exempt from most minimum employment standards related to hours of work, overtime pay and more. In addition, leading up to this decision, Alberta is the only Canadian jurisdiction where agricultural workers are without any form of labour relations coverage
- Allow agricultural workers to unionize (effective spring 2016).
The new rules would impact all farm and ranch workers, regardless of whether or not they are paid. In addition, for family-owned farms, OHS regulation would apply to workers of any age.
Following its announcement, Bill 6 sparked concern and protest from farmers who argue that the proposed legislation is an attack on their way of life. Opponents worry that the government is not providing enough details and that Bill 6 does not take into account that, in some cases, farms are more like homes than businesses.
The government has said it plans to consult with farm workers, producers, labour associations and more over the course of the next month in order to further explain the bill and gain an understanding of the unique agriculture industry as well as receive any feedback.
To review the proposed changes and their potential impact, consult Alberta’s Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act fact sheet.
For more information on Bill 6 and how it could impact you, contact Lloyd Sadd Navacord Insurance Brokers Ltd today.
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