Students give Alberta ag minister an earful on Bill 6

RED DEER — Agriculture groups can wait for weeks or months for an appointment with a government minister.

Nine Olds College students had Alberta agriculture minister Oneil Carlier’s ear for an hour during a bear pit session at the Alberta Federation of Agriculture meeting.

The group talked about social license, becoming an agriculture promoter, shelter belt trees and cattle checkoffs, but it was Bill 6, the controversial farm safety bill, that dominated the discussion.

The students questioned the minister about the need for safety legislation, the exemption of Hutterite colonies from the legislation and if it would affect 4-H and allow hired hands to reject work.

Sampson Moss of Okotoks, Alta., wanted the minister’s assurance that farm workers wouldn’t be able to unionize in Alberta.

“Will there be any protection against unionized farm workers in Alberta, if they don’t want to do a job and we can’t say, ‘get off?’ ” Moss said during the discussion.

“We can’t be told we can’t say that.”

Bill 6 removes the exemptions from farm workers to form a union, but the likelihood that farm workers will form a union is limited, said Carlier.

“The right to belong to a union is a basic human right. Logically, realistically, are they going to?” he said.

The legislation also removes previous exemptions for farms for labour, occupational health and safety and mandatory Workers’ Compensation Board coverage.

Farmers with paid, non-family farm workers must now carry WCB coverage.

A series of roundtable discussions will work out labour, employment and occupational health and safety regulations over the next year.

Carlier has been making the rounds of farm meetings apologizing for the way the bill was introduced.

Thousands of farmers protested the bill before Christmas. It originally applied to all farms but has since been changed to apply to farms with wage earning, non-family workers.

“If you work on your farm and you get a wage, it doesn’t affect you at all,” he told the students.

“It doesn’t affect 4-H any iota at all. It doesn’t affect anyone to bale or fix a fence.”

Marc Damon, an agribusiness student from Ontario, said he thought the meeting was fruitful.

“I think it was a really good sit down and he answered a lot of questions. It helps to educate the young farmers, and the young farmers are the future of agriculture, so it is super important. It helped me a lot. There were some questions I didn’t quite get the answer I wanted, but it gave a better perspective.”

Braden Douglass of Gem, Alberta, said the discussion was useful for the students and the minister.

“I thought it was really good. It would have been nice to have it a bit longer,” said Douglass, who made a special point of attending the session.

“I took away from it that. I think he is uninformed. (The government) didn’t do much research on the facts. He couldn’t answer our questions fully in depth, but it is good to see where he is coming from with Bill 6. I am not totally against Bill 6. I am not one of those people. I think it is a good thing,” said Douglass.

“I think he will take a lot away from it, too. He will take away our perspective.”

mary.macarthur@producer.com

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Comments

  • old grouchy

    Interesting comment “I think he (government ag minister) is uninformed.” What a damning indictment. Somehow I’m thinking this comment might apply to far too much of the government and far too many of its employees. Where did this disconnect come from?

    • Tatonka

      The ag minister is not only uninformed but like the rest of the NDP caucus…completely clueless.

      • Oats Farmer

        @tatonka Do not forget that the government workers were working for a 40 year old PC government where they were controlled and treated like second class citizens. They were to scared to think for them selves

        • Tatonka

          I have no pity for government workers, They have nothing to complain about when compared to the ordinary Joe blow ..half of them are freeloaders anyway.

  • Harold

    Union Rep.( Oneal Carlier) turned Agriculture Minister. Lawyer (Notley) specializing in Workmans Compensation and Work Place Health and Safety, turned Premier of Alberta . (husband- CUPE Communications Officer) Welcome to Bill 6, the introduction of added Notley approved Stake-Holders of your wealth. (1000 farmers protested) Mark Damon says, “…I didn’t quite get the answer I wanted.” Braden Douglass says, “….I think he is uninformed”. (the Government) “didn’t do much research on the facts”. “…He will take away our prospective”. Any wonder? Sitting on our hands and accepting apology’s, we get the Government we now deserve.

  • ed

    The NDP should have offered the insurance coverage in Bill 6 to all Alberta farms with employees, free of charge. Then you would have predictably seen the fight by all the farm groups and the farmers to get every last family farm employee, and by MNP to get every single Hutterite Colony on to this WCB injury compensation. They would be using various lines of logic that would be approximately l80 degrees from what they are presently employing to get away from employing the coverage now..

  • Mike Jones

    NDP National Dumbass Party, hopefully Manitoba goes a step farther in eliminating this plague come April.

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