CALGARY, AB: The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association today called on Premier Notley and the Government of Alberta to halt the rapid movement of Bill 6 through the Legislature, and send it to committee for study and real consultation with Alberta farmers.
“Alberta farmers have not been consulted properly on Bill 6—in fact, they haven’t really been consulted at all,” said Stephen Vandervalk, Vice President (Alberta) of the Wheat Growers, who farms near Fort Macleod.“These major blanket changes need to be thoroughly studied, in serious consultation with the 14,000 wheat growers and 60,000 farmers and ranchers in Alberta.”
Bill 6, the so-called ‘Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act,’ removes important and unique exemptions, inserting farmers and their families into four separate pieces of legislation in sweeping changes announced without real consultation with Alberta farmers and ranchers. Legislative changes in Bill 6 include the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Workers’ Compensation Act, Employment Standards Code, and Labour Relations Code.
“The warp speed of Bill 6 needs to halt and it needs to be sent to committee for study,” said Matt Sawyer, who farms near Acme and is Secretary-Treasurer of the Wheat Growers.“It’s abundantly clear from these hastily-planned government town halls, producers have too many unanswered questions on the significant implications of Bill 6. Taking a pause and consulting Alberta farmers and ranchers before passing it so quickly is the reasonable and right thing to do.”
Bill 6 was introduced on November 17, 2015, without real farmer consultations in advance, which has raised other questions on the genesis of the Bill and the rapid pace of its passage.
“Certain parts of the Act are written to come into force on January 1, 2016, which suggests the government is not prepared to have the Bill studied in committee,” said Vandervalk, who farms durum, malt barley, canola, hay, and yellow mustard.“This needs to be halted—farmers and ranchers must be properly consulted on this legislation.Farmers have too many questions and the government has too few answers—we need to ensure government understands these issues.”
The government is currently holding ‘Farm and Ranch sessions’ under the guise of offering producers the opportunity “to provide input into the proposed changes” where “input from these sessions will be used to inform farm and ranch legislative changes.”However, based on the legislative timetable, some sessions will occur after the Bill becomes law.
“I encourage farmers to immediately fill out the government survey, attend these ‘sessions,’ and to write Premier Notley, Minister Sigurdson, Minister Carlier, their MLA, and the thirteen government MLAs with farms and ranches in their ridings,” said Sawyer, who farms wheat, barley, canola, hay, and Black Angus cattle.“These changes are too important to be rammed through—farmers must have their voices heard on Bill 6, while their MLAs should stand up for them in Edmonton and call on Premier Notley to halt this Bill now and hold real consultations.”
About the Wheat Growers:
Founded in 1970, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is a voluntary farmer-run advocacy organization dedicated to developing public policy solutions that strengthen the profitability and sustainability of farming, and the agricultural industry as a whole. For more information, please visit wheatgrowers.ca.