Farm and ranch consultations

Government consulted with the agricultural community to draft workplace amendments that reflect the unique nature of farms and ranches.

This engagement has been archived
Status: Completed
Ministry responsible: Labour
Completed: 2017


The goal of these consultations was to review how best to apply Alberta’s workplace standards to the agricultural sector while recognizing its unique characteristics.

Outcomes: Occupational health and safety

The four technical working groups studying occupational health and safety submitted their recommendations outlining how provincial legislation could apply to farms and ranches.

As a result of the consultations, a number of OHS Code provisions were changed to reflect the unique nature of work on farms and ranches.

Outcomes: Employment standards and labour relations

The technical working groups reviewing employment standards and labour relations submitted their recommendations. Albertans had an opportunity to provide feedback in the spring of 2017.

The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act was passed in June 2017 based on input from the working groups. It included changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations codes that apply to the farm and ranch sector.

The new rules came into effect on January 1, 2018, with the exception of the Public Emergency Tribunals, which took effect on June 7, 2017.

Technical working groups recommendations

Six working groups developed recommendations on how employment standards, occupational health and safety, and labour relations requirements should be applied given the unique needs of employers and employees in the agricultural sector.

Working group members include representatives from the agricultural sector, labour groups, and technical experts. Each technical working group was chaired by an independent and impartial individual with demonstrated mediation, consensus, and board governance experience.

  • Employment Standards Code

    This working group has completed its work and provided their recommendations to government.

    Chair: David Gould


    • Blaine Staples, Red Deer County, producer, U-Pick and Agri-tourism operator
    • Stuart Thiessen, Strathmore, producer (cow/calf and grain), feedlot operator
    • Steven Marshman, Strathmore, producer (mixed farming), and Alberta Canola Producers Board Member
    • Susan Schafers, Stony Plain, egg farmer
    • Gweneth Feeny, Edmonton, senior researcher Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
    • Joel Beatson, Edmonton, executive director Landscape Alberta
    • Gordon Tait, Lethbridge, partner Meyers Norris Penny LLP (representative of Hutterian Brethren)
    • Martin d’Entremont, Calgary, United Nurses of Alberta
    • James Suydam, Calgary, retired agri-food worker
    • Laurie Fries, Wainwright, mixed livestock producer
    • Tjerk (Jack) Dejong, Fairview, former producer (crop and hog)
    • Morgan Gallatin, Wetaskiwin, worker, dairy worker

    Biography: David Gould, LL.B., Q.C., C.Med

    David Gould is one of Western Canada’s most experienced mediators and facilitators.  He is an industry leader in the design of conflict prevention and conflict management systems and processes as well as their integration with regulatory requirement for public and stakeholder engagement.

    Designed and implemented mediation and facilitation processes for the resolution of public issues and conflicts for numerous Municipal Provincial and Federal Government agencies including: Alberta Justice, Alberta Department of Energy, Alberta Environment, British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission, WorkSafe BC, Yukon Territorial Government, Federal Department of National Defense and Parks Canada.

    Led the design team for the appropriate Dispute Resolution program for the Energy Resources Conversation Board (now the AER) and the National Energy Board.

    Conducted hundreds of mediations for the:

    • Resource industry resolving company-to-company and landowner/industry conflicts;
    • Business sector resolving numerous commercial conflicts as well as internal management issues and workplace conflicts;
    • Insurance industry resolving personal injury claims and coverage disputes; and
    • Aboriginal and Metis communities with the Resource sector
  • Labour Relations Code

    This working group has completed its work and provided their recommendations to government.

    Chair: Cheryl Yingst Bartel


    • John Lawton, Edmonton, producer, cattle feeder
    • John Bland, Strathmore, producer and former RCMP Officer and Livestock Investigator
    • Mark Chambers, Acme, worker/manager in large-scale hog production
    • Martin van Diemen, Picture Butte, producer (dairy, poultry and mixed crops), director with Alberta Milk and Alberta Chicken Producers
    • Karen Shaw, Sturgeon County, Sturgeon County Councillor
    • Devin Yeager, Red Deer, secretary treasurer, UFCW Local 1118
    • Dewey Funk, St. Albert, dairy and beef experience, labour relations officer, United Nurses of Alberta
    • Terence Hochstein, Taber, executive director, Potato Growers of Alberta
    • Grace Strom, High River, Alberta Beekeepers’ Commission, producer
    • Leanne Chahley, Lethbridge, lawyer
    • David Miller, Fairview, Farm worker

    Biography: Cheryl Yingst Bartel, BA, LL.B., Arbitrator and Mediator

    Cheryl Yingst Bartel is a former litigator in a National law firm who now practices exclusively as a Mediator and Arbitrator for labour relations and employment issues. She has mediated over 70 collective agreements to resolution, in both the public and private sectors, in many industries across Alberta. Cheryl is named on the Mediator Roster maintained by Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour and is also a named Arbitrator and Mediator on the roster of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Cheryl has given presentations and training on alternative dispute resolution and legal issues relating to labour and employment to various groups. She is currently pursuing her LLM in Labour Relations and Employment Law.

  • OHS: Review of existing requirements and exceptions (2 groups)

    These working groups considered the applicability of parts 1-29 of the Occupational Health and Safety Code with the unique considerations of farm and ranch work.

    They have completed their work and provided recommendations to government:

    Technical Working Group 3

    Chair: Wendy Hassen


    • Shannon Jacobi, Edmonton, president of the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses Association
    • Kent Erickson, Irma, producer (cow/calf, mixed crops) and Alberta Wheat Commission Director
    • Glenn Norman, Red Deer County, producer (cow/calf and commercial forage)
    • Corey Beck, Sexsmith, County of Grande Prairie councillor, cow/calf producer
    • Tom Vandermeer, Morinville, farm worker
    • Tyler Kueber, Killam, producer
    • Barbara McKinley, Edmonton, WCB consultant
    • Humphrey Banack, Camrose, producer (grains and oilseeds)
    • Philippa Thomas, Cochrane, injured farm worker and farm safety activist
    • Jurgen Preugschas, Mayerthorpe, producer (hog, beef and grain)
    • Anita Heuver, Strathmore, tree nursery operator


    Technical Working Group 4

    Chair: Don Mallon


    • Justin Knol, Lethbridge, mixed grain and speciality seed worker
    • Gerald Finster, Valleyview, producer (grain)
    • Gregory Sears, Sexsmith, producer, (grain, pulse and oilseed) and Alberta Canola Producers board chair
    • Jason Foster, Edmonton, assistant professor of human resources and labour relations with Athabasca University
    • Fred Niehoff, Camrose, farm worker and producer
    • Erna Ference, Black Diamond, Alberta Chicken Producer
    • Rients Palsma, Duchess, dairy farmer, former farm worker and agricultural instructor
    • Al Kemmere, Olds, former Reeve and current councillor of Mountain View County and President of AAMDC
    • Kari Bergerud, Edmonton, nurse
    • Connie Seutter, Edmonton, elk rancher and chair of the Alberta Elk Commission
    • Russel Pickett, Bassano, producer (cattle, hay, and irrigated cereals)
    • Vincent Geerligs, Welling, farm employee, mixed crops and feedlot

    Biography: Wendy Hassen, Chartered Mediator, Certified Professional Facilitator

    Wendy is an experienced and energetic facilitator providing process design, facilitation, mediation and committee support services to private and public sector clients.  Her years in private practice, professional and executive roles within the public sector, combined with community service have given her a broad range of experience including:

    • Designing, facilitating and documenting meetings, discussions and group processes
    • Facilitation, planning and project coordination support (work groups/committees)
    • Facilitating strategic, business and operational planning processes
    • Facilitating union/employer problem solving and other joint initiatives
    • Mediating workplace, community and co-parenting disputes
    • Teaching/coaching effective communications & problem solving processes

    Biography: Don Mallon, Q.C.

    Admitted to Bar: Alberta 1979, Awarded Queen’s Counsel designation in 2004.
    Education: 1978 LL.B (University of Alberta); 1975 B.Sc. (University of Alberta); Certificate of Completion – Mediating Disputes (Harvard Law School P.O.N)

    Don is a partner at Prowse Chowne LLP with an active litigation practice that focuses on property rights and environmental issues. His court and board attendances are aimed primarily at the protection or repair of landowners’ rights. He has advised and advocated for rural and urban landowners, as well as for First Nations in hundreds of expropriation, environmental and energy-related cases. He regularly appears before such administrative tribunals as the Alberta Land Compensation Board, Alberta Surface Rights Board, Alberta Utilities Commission, various subdivision and appeal boards as well Alberta’s Courts. His strong advocacy skills and strategic approach to client issues have resulted in a long record of favorable resolutions for his clients

    Don also utilizes his litigation skills and experience together with additional Harvard Law School mediation and negotiation training to branch into the world of alternative Dispute Resolution. Having successfully participated in many successful mediations and arbitrations on behalf of clients he now conducts them.

    Don is an active member of the Alberta Expropriation Association, having twice served as President.  He is a regular speaker and contributor to its annual conferences. He also holds membership in the International Right of Way Association and the Canadian Bar Association, and was an examiner for the Alberta Law Society’s Bar Admission course for several years. Don has published and presented on many topics including expropriation, land use, taxation and general law for Albertans.

    Don actively volunteers time and energy to SAGE, an Edmonton Seniors association. He’s been involved in numerous other community and social organizations including several Habitat for Humanity for Humanity builds, co-chairing the funding and organization of one in the name of late Chief Justice William Sinclair. He is also an avid road cyclist, a cross country and downhill ski instructor and amateur violinist.

    Areas of practice include: Expropriation and Surface Rights, Environment and Regulatory Law, and Mediation and Arbitration


  • OHS: Best practices for agriculture

    This working group assisted with the review of current best practices related to healthy and safe operations on farms and ranches, and provided advice, suggestions, and recommendations on the best practices prevalent in the agricultural sector.

    They have completed their work and provided recommendations to government.

    Chair: Klaus Opatril


    • Jody Bignell, Rimbey, producer (mixed farming) and farm worker
    • Jennifer Buck, Calgary, farm worker (equine manager)
    • Allan Child, Killam, producer (dairy and mixed crops)
    • Jim Hole, St. Albert, market garden/greenhouse/garden centre
    • Les Oakes, Millarville, president Alberta Equestrian Federation
    • John Waldner, Foremost, manager at Kingslake Hutterite Colony
    • Miranda These, Tilley, worker (safety coordinator)
    • Don Voaklander, Edmonton, professor and director of the Injury Prevention Centre within the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta
    • Alfred Borbely, Millarville, farm worker
    • Dale Collison, Bruce, producer (grain and cattle) and former agri-food worker, Beaver County Councillor
    • Greg Harris, Cremona, cattle and forage farm worker and former police officer
    • Tom Kennelly, Wainwright, worker Sun Haven Farms

    Biography: Klaus Opatril

    Klaus has over 30 years of labour relations experience and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary and a Master of Education from the University of Oregon. His career has most recently involved employment as the Coordinator of Teacher Welfare for the Alberta Teachers’ Association. His responsibilities included the negotiation and administration of collective agreements for teachers in Alberta public, separate and charter schools. He has designed and given workshops and talks on the subject of distributive and integrative bargaining, the grievance process and other labour relations topics. Klaus served as a Board Member of the Alberta Labour Relations Board from 2002 to 2005. He is currently an independent mediator operating the company KG Opatril Mediation Services and specializes in collective bargaining mediation and grievance mediation.

  • OHS: Education, training and certification

    This working group assisted with a review of the current OHS education and training tools available for farms and ranches, and provided recommendations on which education, training, and certification requirements the agriculture sector will be able to use or find useful.

    They have completed their work and provided recommendations to government:

    Chair: Kelly Williams-Whitt


    • Doreen Neilley, Rocky Rapids, Bison Producers Association of Alberta
    • Tim van der Hoek, Vauxhall, pulse producer, irrigation
    • Jeff Kamlah, turkey producer and vice-chair of the Alberta Turkey Producers
    • Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull, Edmonton, executive director of the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre
    • Richard Truscott, Calgary, vice-president, CFIB, small- and medium-sized businesses
    • David Kolotylo, Willingdon, producer
    • Eric Musekamp, Bow Island, Farm Workers Union of Alberta
    • Candace Martens, Calgary, public legal educator at the Calgary Workers’ Resource Centre
    • Judy Finseth, Okotoks, co-manager of Bar Pipe Hereford Ranch
    • Brian Acton, farm worker, grains and oilseeds
    • Page Stuart, Vegreville, producer, past chair Alberta Cattle Feeders Association

    Biography: Kelly Williams-Whitt, MBA, PhD

    Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge, Director of Management Graduate Programs, and a Labour Mediator and Arbitrator.  She is a former registered nurse, with an MBA and a PhD in human resource management and labour relations, both from the University of Calgary.   She has an extensive background in occupational health and safety and a strong interest in this area as an educator and as an Albertan from a farming family.

    Dr. Williams-Whitt teaches courses in occupational health and safety, labour relations, employment law, human resource management and workplace diversity.  As a university professor, she is also an active researcher.  She works with other scientists from around the world to conduct studies in occupational health and return-to-work after illness or injury.  Her work is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and she has authored numerous books and book chapters on work disability and labour and employment law.  Dr. Williams-Whitt holds an appointment with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (Labour Program) as an adjudicator for cases falling under Part III of the Canada Labour Code. She sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for the Relief of Pain and Disability.


Connect with OHS:

Phone: 780-415-8690 (Edmonton)
Toll free: 1-866-415-8690

Employment Standards:

Phone: 780-427-3731 (Edmonton)
Toll free: 1-877-427-3731