As debate rages on in the legislature about Bill 6 and farmers continue to rally and voice their concerns over the controversial bill, the Government of Alberta has announced amendments.
In a news conference on Monday, the Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Lori Sigurdson as well as Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier announced the amendments to the bill they had been promising.
In its news release, the government gave a short brief overview of the amendments:
- The amendments to the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act explicitly exclude the application of WCB and OHS to owners of a farm or ranch operation, family members of the owners, and friends and neighbours who volunteer their time on the farm or ranch.
- Only where non-owner or non-family waged individuals are involved in a farm or ranch operation will WCB and OHS apply to the operation, and only to those non-owner and non-family waged individuals.
- If waged individuals are owners or family members of owners, the application of WCB and OHS will be excluded as it pertains to those individuals.
- In all cases, farm and ranch families may elect to choose WCB coverage for waged owners, waged family members and unwaged neighbours and friends.
— Rural Roots Canada (@RuralRootsCda) December 7, 2015
The government says the amendments confirm the government’s intent to exclude farm and ranch owners, and their families, from Occupational, Health and Safety and mandatory Workers’ Compensation Board coverage.
Sigurdson says they have heard the concerns of farming and ranching families.
“We know that farming in Alberta is more than a business, it is a way of life. It has always been our intention to preserve that way of life. The amendments explicitly exclude owners of farming or ranching operations, and their family members, from the mandatory application of WCB and OHS rules. We are also introducing amendments to assure Albertans that neighbours can still volunteer to help each other out, without being subject to the new rules.”
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier says a lot of things about farming life will stay the same.
“Families will be able to teach their children the farming and ranching way of life, as they always have, and neighbours will be able to volunteer to help each other out in times of need, as they always have.” As quickly as the amendments were announced opposition MLA’s were just as quick to criticize them:
Amendments to #Bill6 are longer than the Bill itself. Not a good sign. Affected farmers & ranchers need time to digest these changes.
— Richard Starke (@RichardStarke) December 7, 2015
Debate on the second reading of the bill went into the very early hours of Tuesday morning. Adjournment came at 1:08 a.m. after the government called for debate on the bill at midnight.