BROOKS, Alta. — The people who will consult on Alberta’s new farm safety policies have been selected, and the 72-member list has been submitted for cabinet approval.
That much is known by members of the AgCoalition, a group representing 30 farm, livestock and commodity groups to deal with the controversial Bill 6, or the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.
However, they don’t yet know who is on the list.
The coalition is hoping many of its members will sit on the advisory committees when the NDP government hammers out details on how the diverse agricultural industry will comply with the new legislation.
Coalition co-chair Kent Erickson said March 22 that the group hasn’t asked that a specific number of coalition members be selected. It put forward more than 60 names of farmers, ranchers and farm group representatives as potential candidates.
“Understanding this government, there’s going to be a level of labour representatives there. There’s going to be some technical expertise from outside,” he said.
“I guess that’s my challenge with the whole process. When over 80 to 90 percent of this is going to be affecting the primary producers, owner operators and employees, they should be vastly represented on these tables, and the rest should be there on a smaller level.”
The government’s introduction of Bill 6 sparked farmer outrage last fall when legislation was tabled without what they considered adequate consultation with the agricultural sector.
Despite widespread criticism, coupled with farmer rallies and protests, the bill passed in December.
Earlier this year, the government announced plans for a consultation process and issued nomination packages as it determined who would participate.
Erickson said the process will involve six committees of 12 members each, which will discuss employment standards, labour relations, occupational health and safety, technical rules, education and training, and unique considerations.
The ag coalition does not favour this approach, said Erickson. It shared that opinion with Agriculture Minister Oneill Carlier, but its suggestion for a different approach was not heeded.
Erickson said coalition members tested the six committee arrangement at a January meeting and found there is a lot of overlap between the six topics.
Erickson said the government has delayed the consultation process but hasn’t given its reasons for doing so.
However, on March 24 the government announced a formal review of the province’s Workers’ Compensation Board system. Mandatory WCB coverage for all non-family paid farm employees is part of Bill 6.
Erickson said the challenges of farming make timing of consultations difficult. Calving is under way now, seeding will begin within weeks in southern Alberta and progress north from there, and after that will come pressures from spraying, summer family plans and harvest.
In the meantime, the coalition has set up its own governance structure with Erickson and Page Stuart as co-chairs and several committees formed to deal with strategy, regulatory consultation, technical issues and communication.
Erickson said he is hopeful that the official consultation will culminate in recommendations that will mesh with the coalition’s recommendations.
“A perfect outcome for me is that we would have a parallel process alongside the government,” he said.
- Alberta Barley Commission
- Alberta Hatching Egg Producers
- Forage Network
- Alberta Beef Producers
- Alberta Milk
- Hutterite Standing Committee
- Alberta Beekeepers Commission
- Alberta Oat Growers Commission
- Landscape Alberta
- Alberta Canola Producers Commission
- Alberta Pork
- Potato Growers of Alberta
- Alberta Cattle Feeders
- Alberta Pulse Growers Commission
- Western Barley Growers Association
- Alberta Chicken Producers
- Alberta Seed Growers Association
- Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association
- Alberta Equestrian Federation
- Alberta Turkey Producers
- Western Stock Growers’ Association
- Alberta Elk Commission
- Alberta Vegetable Growers (Processing)
- Bison Producers of Alberta
- Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association
- Alberta Wheat Commission
- Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association
- Alfalfa Seed Commission (Alberta)
- Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association
- Egg Farmers of Alberta