Angry Farmers Do Not Want Bill 6

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Almost 400 angry farmers sent a clear message to the Alberta government: they don’t want the new farm safety legislation and they believe it is being rushed through without consultation.

“This is insulting,” said Jamie White, of Teepee Creek, Alta.

“The idea that we can not look after our business and the government has to is insulting,” said White, who wants the government to step back, listen to farmers and then build legislation, not the reverse.

“How can they make an informed decision with no information?”

Officials from Workers Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety stood at the front of the packed ballroom and tried to answer questions from the audience of how the legislation would impact farmers. Without technical rules, yet to be written, their vague answers gave farmers and ranchers little confidence. Bill 6 proposes changes to Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, Labour Relations, Employment Standards and the Occupational Health and Safety Code. If the bill is passed changes will start to come into effect at the beginning of January. “This is being rammed down our throat,” said White, who wants the government to slow down and talk to farmers before passing the bill.

White hopes the officials taking notes will take note of the anger, fear and frustration in the room and that the minister responsible, Lori Sigurdson, will put the proposed legislation on hold.

“There is a glimmer of hope she will do the right thing and put it on pause.”

Andrea Conrad, of La Glace, Alta., came to the meeting to see if she would be breaking the law by allowing her children to help with chores. After three hours she didn’t have a clear answer. If her kids are not working, there is not a problem. But what if they are carrying a pail, she wondered. She didn’t get a clear answer.

“Why set up a meeting when there is no answers. I am leaving this meeting with more uncertainty than I came with,” she said.

Katie McLachlan, of Fairview came to the meeting with her brother and mother looking for answers for their family farm. Instead what she saw was families concerned about running their business and if involving their families would mean breaking the law.

Officials took notes and assured the farmers their message would be passed on to government.

“You can’t transcribe emotion,” said McLachlan.

“I though a riot would break out.”

Conrad said the frustration came from the lack of answers and clarity around the answer and the way farms mix leisure and work.

“This is my life. I get up to feed the bulls. I don’t do this for work. It is my life that keeps me alive.”

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*Western Producer

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