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Help shape farm and ranch safety

Albertans are invited to provide input on how occupational health and safety rules could apply to the unique nature of farms and ranches.

Public feedback is important as the government works to ensure updates to the Occupational Health and Safety Code applying to farms and ranches contain common-sense regulations that protect waged, non-family workers while respecting the family farm way of life.

The technical working groups that reviewed the occupational health and safety rules have completed their work. Their recommendations are now posted online, and Albertans can provide their input. The government will take as long as is needed to consult with and listen to farmers and ranchers before making any changes.

“Every worker in Alberta has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. I’m pleased to be moving forward and sharing, as promised, the technical working groups’ recommendations related to farms and ranches. I encourage all Albertans to provide input on how we can carefully craft rules that will balance the need for worker safety while upholding the family farm way of life.”

Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

“Our government took action to make life better for farm and ranch workers by providing them with basic workplace protections. These reports came as a result of the hard work of all members of the technical working groups and our farming and ranching community. I remain committed to working with them as we move forward.”

Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Albertans can provide feedback online at alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch and by emailing farmandranch@gov.ab.ca before Jan. 15, 2018. Government will then begin drafting regulations based on both the recommendations and public feedback.

“TWG 3 members took a collaborative approach in their task to review the health-related provisions of the OHS code. This approach extended to their joint work with TWG 4 members on foundational OHS code elements. Members were diligent in bringing forward their views and the views of those they represented while seeking to understand and address those that were different. This open and honest dialogue led to consensus-based recommendations that met the shared goal of providing safe and healthy workplaces while enabling employers to profitably operate their businesses.” 

Wendy Hassen, chair, Review of Existing Health Related Requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Technical Working Group 3

“TWG 4 was comprised of a diverse group of individuals, including farmers, health workers and academics, all with their own expertise. Discussions in the meetings informed the members of other perspectives and the constructive dialogue resulted in joint recommendations. Where consensus was not reached, summaries of the differing perspectives were provided in order to facilitate informed decisions. I am very pleased to have participated in this process with the talented people who dedicated so much time and effort to provide Albertans with their thoughtful recommendations.”

Don Mallonchair, Review of Existing Safety Related Requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Technical Working Group 4

Participants in TWG 5 represented a diverse range of agricultural expertise spanning the province. Participants shared their perspectives and experiences related to the agricultural sector. They also had access to a jurisdictional review of current provincial, national and international health and safety practices and identified gaps in Alberta’s current best practices. Using a consensus model, participants developed recommendations to address the perceived gaps.”

Klaus Opatril, chair, Best Practices for Health and Safety on Alberta’s Farm and Ranch Operations, Technical Working Group 5

“We were fortunate that TWG 6 included very dedicated and knowledgeable participants. They vigorously represented the perspectives of their stakeholder groups, but this was always done with an eye toward the common goal of making a contribution to OHS education and training that would meet the needs of the agriculture industry in Alberta. I would like to thank each of them for providing their unique perspectives and for their commitment to the process.”

Kelly Williams-Whitt, chair, Occupational Health and Safety Education, Training and Certification, Technical Working Group 6

Key facts and figures

  • Occupational Health and Safety rules only apply to farm and ranch operations that employ waged, non-family workers. They do not apply to owners or family members of owners.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2016, Workers’ Compensation Board insurance coverage is required for paid workers. All waged, non-family farm and ranch workers are covered under WCB. 
  • Since Jan. 1, 2016, 2,125 new Workers’ Compensation Board accounts have been opened by agricultural producers employing waged, non-family workers.
    • Of the approximately 40,638 farms and ranches in Alberta, 9,565 reported hiring waged, non-family workers in 2016.
    • A total of 33,498 farm and ranch workers were employed in paid work on a full-time, part-time or temporary/seasonal basis in 2016.
    • As of June 30, 2017, more than 1,200 workers have had their claims accepted by WCB.

Background

The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, passed in December 2015, brings the protection and compensation of waged, non-family farm and ranch workers in line with similar protections in other sectors and other Canadian provinces.

In May 2016, six technical working groups began developing recommendations on how employment standards, labour relations and occupational health and safety requirements could be applied to meet the unique needs of the agriculture industry.

The working groups were chaired by an independent and impartial individual with mediation, consensus and board governance experience. The groups included technical experts and representatives from the agricultural sector and labour groups.

The recommendations and feedback received from the technical working groups that reviewed employment standards and labour relations were considered as government developed The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act which passed on June 5, 2017.

The technical working groups that examined how the Occupational Health and Safety Code could be applied to farms and ranches have submitted their reports to government. The feedback sought is separate from the review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act announced on Aug.16, 2017.


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