The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act was passed in Alberta’s Legislature on December 10, 2015. The new rules will apply only to farm and ranch operations that employ paid workers. They won’t apply to owners or family members of owners. Changes from the bill began to come into effect on January 1, 2016.
The government will consult with farmers and ranchers, including family farmers, to develop detailed regulations that reflect the unique aspects of the industry. Regulations in other provinces where similar laws already exist will also be reviewed.
What changed on January 1, 2016
Key changes came into effect for farms and ranches employing waged, non-family individuals:
- Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) insurance coverage is required for paid workers. These workers are covered under WCB as of January 1. Employers will have until April 30 to register with WCB. They will also have the option to purchase insurance to cover family members and unpaid workers.
- Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) basic safety standards will apply to paid workers while they're onsite:
- employers must take reasonable steps to provide a safe and healthy workplace
- workers will be able to refuse unsafe work that presents an imminent danger
- OHS will be able to investigate serious injuries and fatalities
Farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders will then be consulted on the following:
- Detailed OHS technical standards specific to the farm and ranch industry will be developed or amended over the next 18 months.
- Employment Standards and Labour Relations codes will be developed after consultations with industry. Farm and ranch operations maintain their current exemptions until the new regulations are proclaimed.
Alberta farm and ranch producers with paid employees who are not the owner or related to the owner will be affected by the legislation.
This means that family members can continue to contribute to farming operations as they always have, and neighbours can still volunteer to help each other out.
Who’s not affected
- Farm families who do not have any waged workers
- Unpaid farm and ranch workers, such as relatives, friends and neighbours helping out on the family farm
- Children doing chores or participating in 4-H
The Act also doesn't apply to recreational activities, such as hunting on farmland.
Why changes are needed
The Government created the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act to bring the protection and compensation of non-family farm and ranch employees in line with what's already extended to other employees and similar to what's in place in other provinces, where family farms continue to thrive.
Legislation can make a difference. Since laws to protect farm and ranch employees were introduced in British Columbia, the farm fatality rate was reduced by 68%, the farm injury rate was reduced by 52%, and the serious injury rate was reduced by 41%. We can make workplaces safer.
We’re working with farmers, ranchers and industry representatives to ensure we find the right balance between safety and the unique needs of the farm and ranch industry.
Help shape farm and ranch labour legislation (Mar 6, 2017)
Working Groups selected for farm and ranch consultations (May 20, 2016)
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