Edmonton, AB (April 22, 2016): Dr. David Swann has expressed serious reservations about delays in the consultation process for the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, also known as Bill 6.
“The bill was passed in December of 2015 and the application process closed in February,” Swann says. “Yet the Minister of Agriculture has not even approved the list of those to be involved in the Working Groups, never mind set a date or location.”
“We know this Act is already proving beneficial,” Swann continued. “Over 10,000 agricultural workers are now covered and, since January 1st, 154 workers have been able to receive assistance for injuries suffered while working. The Minister needs to speed up the process of fully implementing the act. The uncertainty created by the delay hurts both workers and employers.”
“This is a labour bill and Minister Carlier rightly indicated its implementation will transition to Labour Minister Gray,” Swann added.
Swann also expressed concern about the involvement of the farmworkers themselves. Many will have to travel and take time off to participate in the Working Groups. In response to a letter from Swann, Minister Carlier indicated he supports payment at the regular board rate for farmworkers who will be involved in the proposed consultations as well as travel and living expenses.
“Many of these workers are already marginalized. They know their employers don’t want them to be a part of the process and they need support in order to be fully involved,” Swann stated. “I welcome the comments from the Minister regarding pay and expenses but would like to see the full plan for ensuring the farm workers are fully educated and able to represent themselves.”
“Far from being radical or an urban versus rural issue, this legislation brings Alberta in line with other provinces in Canada,” Swann concluded. “I urge Minister Carlier to transition this labour bill to the Labour Minister after finalizing the members of the working groups, and for the NDP government to actively move forward on a fair and constructive consultation process.”