Calgary

Alberta farm workers' WCB claims more than double since Bill 6 passed

Workers' Compensation Board claims for farm workers have more than doubled since the Alberta government passed the contentious farm workers' safety bill, Bill 6 — which at least one advocate hails as a sure sign of success.

Advocate says numbers are a sure sign of the legislation's success

The Farmworkers Union of Alberta praised the province for moving forward with new protections for people who work on farms. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Workers' Compensation Board claims for farm workers have more than doubled since the Alberta government passed the contentious farm workers' safety bill, Bill 6 — which at least one advocate hails as a sure sign of success.

"I'm very comforted to know that more of these workers are being protected, and if they need physiotherapy they'll get that," said Darlene Dunlop with the Farmworkers Union of Alberta. 

"I'm very happy the Alberta government moved forward on this as quickly as they did."

Under the NDP government's Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, farmers and ranchers who hire outside help must provide WCB coverage.

In the first six months of this year, the board received 395 farm worker claims, up from 158 in 2015.

'There's no more accidents being covered'

Humphrey Banack, the spokesperson with the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, said he's not reading too much into the increased number of claims.

He said prior to Bill 6, many of those injured workers would have been covered by private insurance or the farmers themselves.

"There's no more accidents being covered, you know, and it's not like farm workers before were being terribly abused," he said.

"We just covered them in different ways because we had opportunities to use different ways."

Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray said she's pleased to see that more workers are taking advantage of the protection the legislation provides.

With files from the CBC's Colleen Underwood

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