Work­ing groups for Bill 6 ap­pointed

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

The highly con­tentious Farm Safety Act has moved into its next stage of form­ing work­ing groups to com­plete the reg­u­la­tions.

Bill 6 was in­tro­duced by the Gov­ern­ment last win­ter and has been con­tro­ver­sial from the get go, with many agri­cul­tur­al­ists wor­ry­ing about the sur­vival of the fam­ily farm. On Fri­day, the gov­ern­ment re­leased a list of the mem­bers of the con­sul­ta­tion pan­els. These are six groups that will de­velop rec­om­men­da­tions in the ar­eas of em­ploy­ment stan­dards and labour re­la­tions, re­view­ing oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety re­quire­ments and ex­cep­tions, best prac­tices and ed­u­ca­tion, training and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

MLA for Drumheller-Stet­tler Rick Strankman does have some con­cerns about the work­ing groups.

“Wil­drose will care­fully re­view the pan­elists an­nounced today to en­sure that they prop­erly rep­re­sent the farm­ers and ranch­ers of our prov­ince,” he said.

While he has not had a good look at the com­po­si­tion of the groups, he hopes the mem­bers will work in good faith.

“We have to be pos­i­tive that we are striv­ing for greater safety, that is the key. No one in any of these port­fo­lios on ei­ther side of the fence is not for greater safety,” he said. Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Forestry Oneil Car­lier says they are ea­ger to con­sult pro­duc­ers.

“We know we can make work­places safer. We’ve seen the rates of farm fa­tal­i­ties and se­ri­ous in­juries go down when laws to pro­tect farm and ranch em­ploy­ees were in­tro­duced in other ju­ris­dic­tions. Leg­is­la­tion works. That’s why we are ea­ger to be­gin this process to pro­vide in­put from a broad and di­verse range of voices from the farm­ing and ranch­ing sec­tor,” said Car­lier.

Strankman takes is­sue with the sim­ple state­ment that “leg­is­la­tion works.”

“That is a pretty broad state­ment… I think it is in­ter­est­ing that he would couch it with those words when, in many cases, ed­u­ca­tion is a way to­wards greater safety,” he said.

“Cer­tainly leg­is­la­tion is im­por­tant but the goal is safety.”

While Bill 6 took ef­fect on Jan­uary 1, with­out the sup­port­ing reg­u­la­tions that have yet to be drafted, leaves some am­bi­gu­ity.

“The NDP gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to be vague on de­tails and time­lines, as well as the com­pli­ance that will be nec­es­sary for farm­ers and ranch­ers while reg­u­la­tions for Bill 6 are de­vel­oped,” said Strankman. “I con­tinue to have con­cerns that any pos­i­tive work that may come out of con­sult­ing with ac­tual farm­ers and ranch­ers will be su­per­seded by the NDP gov­ern­ment on this leg­is­la­tion.”

Rick Strankman… Drumheller-Stet­tler MLA

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