NDP hopes to begin crafting farm safety rules as early as February
Minister to appoint six working groups composed of industry experts and front-line farmers and ranchers
Alberta's agriculture minister says he hopes to get going as soon as next month on a process to craft the regulations that will underpin the new farm safety law.
Oneil Carlier, speaking to reporters Tuesday, said the plan is to have six working groups composed of industry experts and front-line farmers and ranchers.
Carlier said they will help guide the process as the province drafts rules in the areas of occupational health and safety, labour relations and employment standards.
Carlier said he is reaching out to industry groups now to see if they can assist on finding the best people.
There would be between 10 and 12 members for each of the six groups.
"We're looking to have a very broad cross-representation from farming and ranching stakeholder groups as well as from labourers and workers themselves," said Carlier.
He said the hope is to get the groups organized by mid-February.
"It's still a work in progress," he said.
The new law gives workers compensation benefits to paid farm workers injured on the job effective Jan. 1 of this year.
It also puts farms under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Farms must meet a basic standard of care until specific rules and regulations are hashed out in the next year to 18 months.
The farm safety bill passed late last year against a backdrop of angry protests from farmers.
Alberta was the only jurisdiction in Canada without employment standards coverage for farm and ranch workers and one of the few without WCB coverage when the NDP government introduced the legislation last fall.
Opponents have said they are concerned the regulations will cripple family farms with too much red tape or will have blanket regulations that are unworkable and unadaptable to farm operations.
The opposition Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties have said the legislation moved too far too fast in the house and that more discussion was needed.
Some farmers have said they fear the legislation will not only destroy the profitability of their operations but also prevent moms and dads from passing the farm culture on to their children.
Premier Rachel Notley has stressed the legislation does not apply to family members and that the farm tradition will not be endangered.