Bill 6

Photo by Natalie Jackman, www.have-dog.com

Our unabashedly, proud agriculture family. Complete with pony and buffalo. Photo by Natalie Jackman, www.have-dog.com

 

RE: BILL 6

Dear Premier Notley,

I find it gut wrenching to receive the following email (please see below). As the owner of an equine training breeding and boarding facility, Bill 6 will directly affect my family. I tried to register to attend the information session being held in my area on December 2, 2015 but sadly all the seats are full. The following email from the Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour suggests that I should attend the next closest meeting in ATHABASCA.
BILL-6-Email-WEB
Are you seriously suggesting that I pack up my children, leave our animals, our farm, our businesses and drive 489 kms (4 HOURS + 41 MINS) to have a chance at an information session?

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Please understand, a horse training business is somewhat dangerous in nature and therefore, we already do carry WCB coverage for our business. We have done so for the last +10 years. My husband, a professional horse trainer, is a great man and works very hard to support us. We truly understand the consequences of having him injured, sidelined or worse. But please know that we have struggled to pay the WCB premiums at times – so I’d like to know – will there be any government financial assistance when it comes to requiring farmers and ranchers to carry WCB? What about government financial assistance for helping us deal with the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code?

I have questions. I want to understand.

I can assure you that rarely ever, do horses colic between the hours of 9-5, Monday to Friday. Automatic waterers typically freeze in the middle of the night. And a plethora of other things happen around here at times outside of “business hours” because the animals have their own minds too. We have  to deal with them, regardless of how many hours we have already logged, or what day it is.

We have animals to feed, even on Christmas morning.

Furthermore, our children stay alongside us feeding the animals and assisting around the farm because they truly love it. How and who will determine what a “chore” is vs. “employable work?”
Who will be writing the safety manuals? I implore the government to seek the guidance of knowledgeable individuals in our industry before this legislation is passed. I am sincerely asking for a chance to educate myself before this goes through.

Thank-you for the consideration,
– Jennifer Webster

PS – Thanks for adding me to the “waitlist.”

 

 

Comments

  1. Lynne Harder says

    OMG, can you imagine that we might finally make all employers responsible for the life altering injuries that occur to their employees. How dare we as a Province that enforces safety as the backbone of its culture dare ask farmers to be part of this responsibility to our greatest resource! About damn time. And I’m not even an NDP supporter.

  2. Michelle Pearson says

    Lynne Harder…. DRIVE OUT OF THE F’N CITY! In any job I deem TOO DANGEROUS… I quit. That’s a farmers mentality…. COMMON SENSE. Wish all you Urban people would TRY IT! There is a hell of a lot more chance of getting run over on a city street than by a Cow ( yes, the kind that moos and poops), a Combine, tractor or any other farm implement. Good God, if only urban people, politicians included would Get out and Experience before Judging.

  3. I moved to Alberta in 2006 to work in large commercial feedlots and was surprised to find there were no Employment Standards at all. While there is the need for Employment Standards in all employment in this day and age, Bill 6 is not acceptable as it stands because exceptions need to be made for many situations in Family Farming. For example: With Bill 6 there will be a designated area on the farm considered the home, and the rest of farm will be considered commercial operation. If I understand correctly (and it’s difficult for any of us to get a full grasp of the legislation since most of us farmers, that are on the internet. just heard about it); any time the child helps when in the area of the commercial operation OHS legislation will apply. I assume that when OHS applies then WCB is required, so when children, friends and family help on the farm it will cost money and require paperwork.

    Another thing I now wonder, is, since the area designated as the home includes the house lawn and family garden, how will OHS determine where the Home ends and the Commercial Operation begins? On farms where it is difficult to tell, I foresee a OHS inspector requiring fencing for safety so children can’t wander from the house into the farm yard (also known as the Commercial Operation) and so OHS has a finite line where the home ends and the business begins. This is just one of the many changes that could be brought about by the short-sighted Bill 6 and it’s affects on a small Family Farm. Family Farms are a unique way of life and any Bill that may affect them needs to have special consideration to preserve it.

    Farmers aren’t asking that there be no Employment Standards in agriculture, but they are asking that they be consulted and that time and thought are put into a bill that could drastically change their family’s way of life. Bill 6 needs to be tabled and changes need to be made.

  4. This is more than just making farms safe, and every farmer will tell you that they are all for safety…its usually their own family that would suffer. The issue is all the demands that OH&S would make mandatory and quite frankly unattainable for any rancher/farmer. Issues like: children can not be more than 50 feet from their house (Lynn Harder I doubt you were raised with in 50 feet of your house), everyone must wear a safety harness if they are climbing higher than three feet (need a harness to get into the combine or put hay on top of that horse trailer), electrical cords that could be a potential tripping hazard (so much for heating those waters for the livestock). Legislature being passed without careful consideration is an issue. Clearly as the bill stands, there are serious problems and it is much more than paying into WCB (which lots of farmers/ranchers already do). Finally, it is an assault on the culture of the west, applying eastern urban solutions to a way of life that has been here for a hundred years. The bill needs to be scrapped.

  5. “….its my worker’s right to go home with the same number of fingers and toes that they showed up with in the morning” sounds pretty much like hyperbolic rhetoric as well Nolliand, sounds like you have a big jug of orange cool-aid stocking the cooler. It clearly IS an attack on “western culture” especially when OH&S bureaucrats have a right of entry to your family farm without a warrant. It clearly IS an attack on “western culture” when little bookish men come to your barn and tell you were to hang your shovels and rakes and electrical cords. It clearly IS an attack on “western culture” when YOU abrogate your right to work and live as you choose without regulatory oversight. It clearly is an attack on “western culture” when the government decides how far in FEET your child will be permitted from the residential properly. Nolliand, if you don’t get that, then you don’t get what “western culture” is all about. Ps. maybe next time don’t put western culture in italics as ‘western culture’. Just saying.

  6. Natasha Gray says

    While safety is a very good and very important thing, this bill is not looking at the realistic way of farm life. I am all for being safe, and having things like compensation benefits should someone get hurt. However, they are going to do a lot more than this. They are trying to limit your working hours, and what children can do. You cannot limit hours on a farm, it isn’t possible. Mother nature determines the weather, and therefor when a crop will be planted and harvested. Animals live on their own schedule, and get sick or hurt in the middle of the night. And other things can happen like water bowls freezing, storms hitting that require hours of cleanup, wildlife destroying fences. The list on a farm or ranch is endless, and so are the hours. You cannot limit how many hours are worked on a farm.
    And then the children. How do you limit what a child does or where they go? While I understand people are concerned about the safety of a child, I am pretty sure that all parents try their best to keep their children safe and educate them to stay safe to the best of the ability. A little hard work and helping out have never hurt a child. Helping out around the farm, and riding with parents on equipment is pretty safe. If a parent feels it is not a place for a child to be, they won’t take their kids there. Who is the government to tell them how to raise their kids. We already have enough children with no work ethics, limiting a farm child to the work they can do, when and for how long, is only going to create more.
    I want to see all politicians come and actually work on a farm for 6 months. Come see what it is like to get up and have do deal with the long list of work we farmers and ranchers do. I want to see them have to service and repair the equipment that plants and harvests the crops, or that is used to feed the livestock. Lets see them get out of bed in the morning to milk cows, or get up in the middle of the night to tend to a sick animal or one that has decided to give birth. They might just realize then that a farm or ranch operation is not a 8-5 or 9-5 job. While yes you do get tired, someone has to work to get things done to put the food on the shelves that people can so conveniently go to the store and buy.

  7. Heather Matheson-Bird says

    Well said Jennifer and it’s a shame that the public consultation period has been basically for optics, happening after the second reading of this bill. :(
    I applaud you for having your children alongside you both as you do chores, this is how children (the FUTURE of our industry!), learn what is safe and what is not, they develop a work ethic and learn responsibility: a rarity in some parts these days. I am all for farm safety, accountability and the freedom to decline dangerous work, as well as training for those folks new to any part of the agriculture industry. I feel Bill 6 needs to go back to the drawing board, as the intentions are good, the document as it is now is very confusing and clearly unsettling the masses. For those opposed to (or all for) the bill, contact your MLA!!! I truly hope the squeaky wheel gets the oil on this one, before it falls off the axle and hurts our industry.

  8. Heather Matheson-Bird says

    Correction: Town Hall meetings are occurring after the first reading of this bill in the legislature! The second reading is to come soon.

  9. Derrick Fernie says

    I’m not against the family family I lived on one, but if you employ people you must have WCB, if not then you fall under the tort system of this country. Imagine you go to work on a farm your’re injured in an accident you will never work again.who picks up the cost of this persons support for the rest of their life “the government “ie the public? Guess what you as the farm owner can be sued do you really think that the employers of this country want to pay WCB premiums are you kidding the reason they pay them if they did not, they would be sued in court no matter what the cost of the WCB premiums its still cheaper then getting sued in court. Even if you get them to sign a waiver before they start work it will not stand in a court of law because it was signed under duress. And even if the employee has a WCB number the owner of the company still has to have one. The secret is make the WCB pay out on every case make it unprofitable for them! they will soon find a better way.

  10. Derrick Fernie says

    Here’s an idea bring up the statistics on payouts on serious injuries and we all know most farm injuries are serious. So why do you need a private insurance company that does not pay out on serious injuries
    when in fact they have a fiduciary duty to do so and the Government has fiduciary duty to the public body to make sure they are protected under same Insurance company which I might add they are negligent in doing. The only way to do this is to remove the provincial privitive clause that protects the WCB from tort by removing this clause a injured worker could sue the WCB not the employer because he’s protected by his insurance company. That does not mean that every injured worker would sue they would not have to the mere fact that they could be sued would keep them honest. As it stands the WCB is almost omnipotent they are like a government unto themselves. But if they had to pay out on a larger percentage of the claims they would not be so rich and powerful!

  11. Karen Luger says

    What I like to know is who will be monitoring the cost of all the people and paperwork to implement and maintain Bill 6 and who will end up paying for it.
    The costs will trickle down to the common folk, folks that are only trying to provide the best living for themselves and their family.
    We own our own small Heating and Air Conditioning business and every year our commercial insurane premiums go up ( never down) with no plausible reasoning, or accountability from the insurance company.
    Our Contractors premium, this is (only tools and a 500 square foot storage building) went up over $3000 from last year to now. We had no claims sent in we have been with the same company for 5 years and we had one no fault claim against us that closes March, 2016
    When a claim is put in against your business that claim is left open for 2 years no matter if you are cleared of any wrong doing saying this our last year premiums went up the usual 10% , but since we are 2 months away from the claim against us closing our insurance company justifies an insane increase of over $3000 along with the excuse that they have been under charging us for the past couple of years.
    So all I can say is way to go Notley for giving more power and money to the insurance companies who run their business like a dictatorship and for picking on another industry out there to ruin. Fight for your rights farmers, they take enough from the other small businesses out there. This Bill 6 is not there for the farmers it’s for the insurance companies to make more money along with WCB.
    WCB is one of the worst run organizations in AB and OH&S is a huge headache. Maybe they will get farmers to wear hard hats while milking or during calving season.

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