Letters to the editor – October 22, 2015

Posted

Good riddance to CWB

By way of introduction, 28 years of my life was involved with the grain handling industry under the auspices of the Canada’s Board of Grain Commissioners and the Canadian Wheat Board.

In response to the report by Canadian Wheat Board Alliance pamphlet headed, “The Great Canadian Grain Robbery,” the truth came forward in major disguised form. The English language explains terms of “robbery” can only be an illegal act of force by fear.

From 1935 until 2013, the Canadian Wheat Board held the exclusive rights and had complete control over the marketing of all Canadian wheat and barley. (Total 79 years). It included policing of quota deliveries at all country elevators in addition to railway box-car allotment for terminal shipments. Major terminal delays were common because unreliable co-ordination between the railways and the Canadian Wheat Board was a regular occurrence.

Delayed vessel loading at the sea-side ports caused upwards of $5,000 demurrage per day on each delayed ocean-going vessel.

The absence of a wheat board audit or estimate regarding the billions of squandered dollars over the 79-year period will never be known.

Let it never be forgotten, the farmers of 2015 and onward may now market their products freely in the United States or Canada, in any way they please, without quota or fear of over-delivery prosecution.

Thus the return of the Canadian Wheat Board, as is being promoted by the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance, would be a step back into the dark ages of Canadian agriculture. Thank goodness the open market was restored.

The tragic, offensive marketing clutches and stranglehold exercised by a renewed Canadian Wheat Board must never be repeated.

John Seierstad
Tisdale, Sask.

Programs eroded

This letter is aimed to cite some of many examples of how governments, mainly federal, have been eroding programs and polices cutting away farm and ag industry advantage and loading added costs to western farmers. It started in the post war years and continues to this day.

First was to loss of the Crow Rate, then the PFRA dismantling, more recently the Wheat Board. Research Centre budgets cut by 30 percent and closures of Indian Head, One-Four and Stavely.

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The at-risk Outlook Centre, the muzzling of our research scientists, denying media access and contact. MII, privatization and commercialization have made our centres a virtual Fort Knox of security.

I would like to have some economists, academics and scholars add all these up. I know there were some Crow payments, but lots of secondary ag industries, such as alfalfa processors, lost comparative advantage

For Fraser Valley and orient export markets, a simple change in regulation or act if necessary, could have saved a lot of acrimony and the board. All a few farmers wanted was free access to the U. S. market.

American protectionism and border elevators would soon have whipped out any price advantages.

On the protected supply management sector, the promised $10 billion should go right across Canada to all farm families who have gross incomes of less than $50,000 and no off-farm income.

The dairy sector probably has the most millionaires, judging from the fortunes they hold and are willing to pay for quotas. Canadians are paying way too much for dairy products.

No offence to anyone, but how do governments justify beating up like this on the West? Provinces have been in that game too, decimating ag extension services.

John G. Calpas,
Lethbridge , Alta.

Attention to safety

Compliance to health and safety concerns in some companies is simply atrocious. I work in the oilfield sector and one of my responsibilities is health and safety. Although companies have a health and safety code of practice, followed up by the requisite safety meetings, I find a great deal of apathy among employers and at times the employees.

In some companies, the only time safe work practices are adhered to is when the Occupational Health and Safety Office is approaching the front gate and everyone concerned in the building jumps to attention and dons their personal protective equipment.

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I found from my own experience that the safety officer only appears if a complaint has been filed with their department. This is not helpful as it is “reactive” and not “pro-active.” I feel the government needs to address the health and safety concerns of workers in a more vigilant manner.

Some of the largest offenders are companies based in the industrial areas of this province. Loader operators not wearing steel-toed boots, employees loading trucks with no safety vests, torch cutting without safety glasses, staff in manufacturing facilities operating cranes with no overhead crane certificates, fork-lift operators using these pieces of equipment with no training certificate in place, sandblasters using half-face masks instead of helmets with breathable air and ingesting silica blast media particles, machinists working on machines without the proper eye-wear, just to name a few.

Don’t even get me going on the lack of maintenance and safety on commercial trucks and yard front end loaders.

The list is lengthy and concerning. I understand government budgets have been tightened and in some cases frozen, however, worker safety should be exempt from these constraints. The legislation is in place, but more boots are needed on the ground in the form of Occupational Health and Safety Officers to enforce the code of practices.

Solution: An unannounced major safety campaign targeting commercial and industrial business operations throughout the province. At the same time, a major commercial truck inspection campaign to be initiated at the government truck scales throughout Alberta. These campaigns should be done at least quarterly, so employers will comply with current health and safety legislation and to most importantly protect the wellbeing of all employees and the general public.

Lastly, ban the use of “silica sand” in sandblasting operations throughout the province. Why, do we need workers coming down with silicosis in the later years of their lives after decades of exposure?

I challenge the current government to take the proverbial bull by the horns and have their departments undertake these health and safety campaigns on a more frequent basis.

Employers have gotten off the hook for far too long and workers have suffered the consequences of unsafe work practices.

Let’s keep the workers and general public of the province of Alberta Safe.

Thomas Deak
Edmonton, Alta.

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John Seierstad