CALGARY, AB: Today, Wheat Growers Alberta Directors Stephen Vandervalk (Vice President, Alberta; grain farmer near Fort Macleod) and Matt Sawyer (Secretary-Treasurer; grain farmer and rancher near Acme) released the following statement responding to the fast-tracking of Bill 6 through the Legislature without real consultations of Alberta farmers and ranchers:
“It’s disappointing to see Premier Notley and her government have now completed their railroading of Bill 6 into law without real consultation of Alberta’s farmers and ranchers.
“It was especially disheartening the past couple of days, where they bulldozed it through the legislature at warp-speed in the last readings of the Bill, without any committee debate throughout the process.
“Their ‘farm and ranch sessions’ took place after the introduction of the Bill with their decisions clearly and admittedly already made, while not responding to meeting requests from the broad Alberta ag community and refusing to put the brakes on the Bill to undertake real consultations with farmers.
“Some sections of the Bill now quickly become law, while they claim other parts they will now consult on to develop the regulations and technical standards, but it’s uncertain if that can be believed at this stage.
“Changing four major pieces of existing legislation within Bill 6 has created unnecessary uncertainty and confusion in rural Alberta, with many unanswered questions on what this means for farms and ranches on issues such as employment standards during busy times like seeding and harvest, health and safety standards and inspections on family farms as ‘work sites,’ status of existing and superior private insurance plans for employees with mandatory WCB being forced on family farms, etc.
“On a positive note, it has been great to see Alberta farmers and ranchers from across the province and in every area of agriculture and rural Alberta come together on this issue.
“It was sad to see a diktat from urban officials in the new government—including some not even from Alberta—create such division in our province rather than strive to be inclusive.
“But as farmers and ranchers, we should be proud of supporting each other and will need to do so going forward, with other imminent attacks—such as the carbon tax—moving towards the family farm in the near future.
“The Wheat Growers will continue the fight for farmers and ranchers on this issue into 2016 and beyond—fighting to ensure any new regulations work for farmers, and fighting to amend and repeal sections that clearly don’t work for farmers.”
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.