AgCoalition formed in Alta. to work on farm worker bill

A coalition of 30 Alberta commodity groups has developed a strategy to deal with upcoming consultations on the controversial Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.

The AgCoalition, which represents crop and livestock boards and commissions, set up an email address for farmers’ questions, and a website with more information is coming about the act, also known as Bill 6.

The email address is info@agcoalition.ca.

The coalition is also keeping a producer feedback survey open until Feb. 26. The survey is available at svy.mk/233nWTA.

The province plans a consultation process with committee members nominated from the agriculture community and other stakeholders and farm safety experts.

Application forms for positions on the committees are available on the government website, but the Agcoalition is asking for nomination packages to go through it first. In a news release Feb. 22, the coalition suggested this is a better way to co-ordinate with nominees and ensure meaningful and effective consultation sessions.

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Kent Erickson and Page Stuart, the AgCoalition’s co-chairs, will meet with agriculture minister Oneil Carlier and deputy minister Bev Yee Feb. 24 to discuss concerns with the government approach.

The coalition met for the first time Jan. 22 and agreed it does not like the six panel consultation format, in which a variety of aspects of the regulations will be discussed: employment standards, unique considerations, Occupational Health and Safety best practices, technical rules, education and training, employment standards and labour relations.

The coalition has also created a five committee structure to work with government on regulations for the bill:

•    Farm safety coalition strategy committee: This group of general managers and executive directors from the crop and livestock sectors will provide strategic support to the industry advisory forum and technical working group.

•    Technical working group: This group includes AgCoalition membership staff, industry representatives and possibly external expertise if needed. This group takes care of the daily work of the AgCoalition. Participants will be confirmed after the next AgCoalition meeting March 2.

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•    Industry advisory forum: This group of producers will provide regular up-to-date information to the AgCoalition.

•    GOA regulatory consultation interface: These are the AgCoalition representatives who will eventually work with government, supported by the strategy committee and technical working group.

•Communication and administration group: This group works with the strategy committee on communication initiatives.

The Alberta government website contains full information about the bill and upcoming consultations. It can be found at www.alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch-consultations.cfm.

Contact barbara.duckworth@producer.com

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