Statement by David Swann: Past Time to Protect Farm Workers

EDMONTON, AB (June 12, 2015): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement on the need to protect farm workers in Alberta:

“No worker should ever be put in an unsafe situation; every Albertan would agree with that. This is why we have enacted a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) framework to ensure that work places are safe and that young people aren’t expected to do work beyond their training or skill set.

“Sadly, many Albertans are unaware that the basic workplace safety rules that they operate under everyday are not extended to paid farm workers in this province. In this area, there is no limit to how young an individual can be employed, no regulation requiring safety training, and no workplace compensation in the event of an injury.

“What makes this situation even more incredible is that each year there are hundreds of serious injuries and between 18 to 24 deaths. Yet successive PC governments have decided that this single industry requires no regulation to ensure safe working conditions.

“In every other province in this country, paid farm workers are afforded the same basic protections as other workers – and yet somehow agriculture still seems to flourish in those jurisdictions.

“It’s time to bring our OHS and WCB regulations out of the nineteenth century and provide protection for paid farm workers, including child labour standards, in Alberta.”