January 4, 2018

The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act was passed December 10, 2015 and came into effect January 1, 2016.  This legislation applies to Alberta farm and ranch producers with paid employees and excludes unpaid family members.  The government engaged in a consultation process through the formation of six Technical Working Groups (TWGs) to support the design of workplace regulations and standards for the agriculture sector that reflects the unique nature of the farm and ranch industry.

Recommendations from two of the TWGs were considered in the proposed changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Codes. Amendments to both codes were included as part of the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, which was given Royal Assent on June 7, 2017. The changes that affect farms and ranches came into effect on January 1, 2018, with the exception of the availability of Public Emergency Tribunals for the agricultural industry, which came into effect June 7, 2017. Public Emergency Tribunals can be put in place if there are potential labour disputes that may threaten crops or livestock health. The Government of Alberta has released the recommendations from the remaining TWGs for public consultation and is seeking input from stakeholders. The following links summarize the recommendations

The AAMDC has provided the following input into these recommendations:

  • The AAMDC generally supports the recommendations identified, with the following two exceptions:
    • As per TWG report and page reference 3-10, 11: Effective response times for first responders in the event of an emergency is a point of concern, and the AAMDC is aware of the realities and challenges of response times in the rural and remote areas, and notes that planning for emergency transportation is a reality in these areas.
    • As per TWG report and page reference 3-7: That greenhouses, mushroom farms, nurseries, sod farms, and riding schools be left to their own devices to advocate on their own behalf to demonstrate how they qualify for inclusion in the definition of farming and ranching.
  • The AAMDC acknowledged that many of the recommendations are focused specifically on employers and request that clarity be provided as to the responsibility of employees as it relates to fulfilling the requirements of these recommendations.
  • To support effective implementation of legislative and Code changes regarding farm and ranch workplaces, transparent communications must be developed to advise Alberta’s agriculture sector of the intended changes and support effective change management.
  • The AAMDC supports the AgCoalition as a voice for agriculture and its work to refine the regulatory framework to arrive at a reasonable approach to implementation at the farm and ranch level. There is a need to have a focused agriculture industry health and safety advisory group to ensure that that the interests of the agriculture industry are considered as the culture of farm safety evolves across Alberta. The AAMDC believes that it is imperative that the AgCoalition be the voice representing agriculture to ensure that a strong industry perspective is provided.


The deadline to provide input is January 15, 2018.
Written comments can be provided via email to FarmandRanch@gov.ab.ca or via mail to:

Farm and TWG recommendations feedback
Occupational Health and Safety branch
Alberta Labour
8 Floor Labour Building
10808-99 Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5K 0G5

 

Enquiries may be directed to:

Tasha Blumenthal
Director, Advocacy & Communications
780.955.4094

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