“We have listened to farmers and ranchers about the need for greater clarity. It has never been our government’s intention to interfere with what family members, friends and neighbours have always done on the family farm. That’s why we will amend Bill 6 to make clear what was our intention all along– that farm families would be exempt from those laws, which were designed to protect paid employees.”
The proposed amendments would:
- make clear WCB coverage would be required only for paid employees, with an option for farmers to extend coverage to unpaid workers like family members, neighbours and friends;
- make clear that Occupational Health and Safety standards apply when a farm employs one or more paid employees at any time of the year.
Ongoing consultations will help form the basis of regulations to be developed by 2017 to ensure the unique workplace characteristics of farms and ranches are recognized. One session was held in Grande Prairie on November 26 and eight more are scheduled in December. Government is working with venues to increase capacity at each session to ensure more farmers and ranchers are able to attend and have their voices heard.
“We appreciate the concerns farmers and ranchers have raised. To be clear, Bill 6 is not in any way going to affect children doing their chores, participating in 4-H, or learning the family business. It does not prevent neighbours, relatives and friends from helping each other out during busy times. It does not apply to recreational activities such as riding horses or hunting on farmland. What Bill 6 does is bring Alberta farm and ranch safety standards in line with other provinces, and ensure that if a wage-earning employee is injured or killed on the job, that person and their family have the same access to financial supports as employees in other sectors.”