Workers compensation to become mandatory for P.E.I. farm employees

As of Jan. 1, all farm workers across the Island must be covered by workers compensation.

Changes, which will affect about 85 per cent of Island farmers, take effect Jan. 1.

Mitch Johnson cleans the stable at Eastside Farm in Frenchfort. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

As of Jan. 1, Island farmers will be required to sign their employees up for workers compensation coverage.

The P.E.I. Workers Compensation Board says until now, about 15 per cent of farmers have chosen to sign on, meaning about 70 per cent of farm workers were already covered.

Making the coverage mandatory has been in the works for a few years.

Farmer Bloyce Thompson says he doesn't mind having to pay into workers compensation. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

It pays farm workers if they get hurt, and protects the farmers from lawsuits.

Our employees are our most important aspect on our farm so we gotta protect them.– Bloyce Thompson

Charlottetown dairy farmer Bloyce Thompson has been using private insurance until now for the farm's two full-time employees. He says the workers comp rate to farmers for 2017 — $2.41 per every $100 spent on wages — is reasonable.

"At the end of the day, no, it's not going to make or break us, but it's just added security," he said. "We're always doing things like vaccinating cows for security reasons … our employees are our most important aspect on our farm so we gotta protect them as well."

Information sessions

The Workers Compensation Board will be having information sessions for farmers at Access PEI locations across the Island over the next few weeks.

The PEI Federation of Agriculture is holding an information session Dec. 7 at the Farm Centre.

With files from Stephanie Brown