EDMONTON, Alta. — Protests against farm worker legislation keeps building in momentum.
A hastily built Facebook page, opposed to Bill 6, has 24,000 members in only a few days, farmers packed a Grande Prairie hotel ball room Thursday and on Friday about 150 farmers protested on the steps of the Alberta legislature.
Without changes to the bill, farmers have vowed to continue the protest the bill.
“I don’t agree with the bill,” said Stan Wilkie, of Bashaw.
“As farmers we’re pretty independent and it is an insult that they think they need to tell us how to look after our children. It’s arrogant. The previous government was arrogant and now this one is too,” said Wilkie.
Under the proposed legislation, Alberta’s 45,000 farms and ranches will no longer be exempt from farm safety rules, worker’s compensation requirements and labour standards.
But to Wilkie, the bill is just an added cost that the farmer has to absorb and difficult to enforce.
“It is just going to be a hassle for all the farmers.”
Kamren Birkbeck said his family works off farm to support the farm, but it is a life they have chosen.
“No one can tell us I can’t help calf my calf at 40 below to help us make a living and make our payments,” said a tearful Birkbeck.
Kayla Trautman, of Stony Plain came to the rally to get the message through to government that farmers need to be heard before legislation is passed.
“Maybe there should be someone listening to farmers before making the rules,” she said.
Alberta Jobs minister Lori Sigurdson wandered into the crowd briefly, citing the case of farm worker Kevan Chandler, who died in a farm accident on a southern Alberta feedlot. His widow later sued the farm and it went broke.
“This bill is about safety,” said Sigurdson.
“We want to prevent farmers from losing their farm and we want to make sure that we protect the lifestyle.”