Strankman still con­cerned with farm safety bill

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

The Al­berta govern­ment is now look­ing for nom­i­na­tions to build work­ing groups to con­sult on the con­tentious farm safety act.

In De­cem­ber of last year, the Al­berta leg­is­la­ture passed Bill 6 to a cho­rus of op­po­si­tion from farm­ers and farm­ing groups. Last week Al­berta Agr ic u l t u r e and Forestry put call out for nom­i­na­tions from stake­hold­ers to par­tic­i­pate in six tech­ni­cal work­ing groups to de­velop rec­om­men­da­tions on “how emp l o yment stan­dards, oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety, and labour re­la­tions re­quire­ments should be ap­plied given the unique needs of em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor.”

“Farm­ing is more than a job, it’s a way of life, and this govern­ment rec­og­nizes that,” said Oneil Car­lier, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Forestry. “Th­ese tech­ni­cal work­ing groups will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for a broad and di­verse range of voices from the farm­ing and ranch­ing sec­tor to en­sure their way of life is pre­served, while at the same time en­sur­ing waged work­ers come home safely at the end of each day.”

Drumheller-Stet­tler MLA and Agri­cul­ture and Forestry critic Rick Strankman says that this week he is sched­uled to have a con­fer­ence call with Min­is­ter Car­lier on the sub­ject. His orig­i­nal as­sess­ment of the govern­ment putting the bill be­fore reg­u­la­tions, still rings through.

“It is the com­plete cart be­fore the horse sit­u­a­tion here," he said. “This is the co­nun­drum the agri­cul­ture sec­tor has been placed in right now,

a is they have a legally bind­ing leg­is­la­tion, but the reg­u­la­tions that re­late to it are still to be drawn up.”

He likens it to out­law­ing speed­ing on a high­way, but not set­ting a speed limit.

Strankman has heard that rep­re­sen­ta­tives of groups in the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try are get­ting to­gether to make rec­om­men­da­tions. “There is a group now, I un­der­stand, of over 20 agri­cul­ture or­ga­ni­za­tions who have vol­un­tar­ily co­a­lesced to­gether to pro­vide in­put,” said Strankman. “They are try­ing to for­mal­ize it.” He has some con­cerns about the process. He said he be­lieves this is a labour is­sue, how­ever the file ap­pears to be in the hands of the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture.

He has seen the on­line ap­pli­ca­tion, as he has con­cerns for peo­ple in the ag in­dus­try try­ing to get in­volved.

“I spot­ted im­me­di­ately in the ap­pli­ca­tion process that peo­ple who are nom­i­nated are sup­posed to be avail­able for tele­con­fer­ences or video con­fer­ences, al­most al­ways on call dur­ing the months of April and May. Those are the two most busy months of the year for agri­cul­ture.”

Ac­cord­ing to an on­line bulletin from the prov­ince, “The nom­i­na­tion process will iden­tify rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, labour groups, and tech­ni­cal ex­perts. Each work­ing group will be chaired by an in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial in­di­vid­ual with demon­strated me­di­a­tion, con­sen­sus, and board gov­er­nance ex­pe­ri­ence. Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and nom­i­na­tion forms for work­ing group mem­ber­ship are avail­able on­line on the Farm and Ranch Work­place Leg­is­la­tion web­site."

Rick Strankman… Drumheller-Stet­tler MLA

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