Farm Freedom and Safety Act introduced to support unique nature of farms, ranches
The Government of Alberta has introduced Bill 26, the Farm Freedom and Safety Act, that would repeal the previous government’s controversial Bill 6. The new bill “restores balance, fairness and common sense” to the agriculture sector, the government said. It addresses employment standards, workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety and labour relations laws.
“We promised Albertans we would consult first and legislate second — and that’s exactly what we did. We’ve taken this feedback and built common-sense farm workplace legislation that works for people, not against them,” said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen.
This summer, the UCP government held 25 engagement sessions at farms across the province and administered a public survey about the proposed legislative changes. The government says this bill recognizes that a farm is unlike other businesses and provides farmers and ranchers with flexibility to meet labour and employment standards.
The new bill allows employers to have a choice when it comes to workplace insurance. Farms and ranches with more than five waged, non-family employees will be required to have workplace insurance but will be able to choose which option works best for their operation (workers’ compensation board coverage or private insurance). If the bill is passed, this change would come into effect on Jan. 30.
The bill is clear that farms and ranches with waged, non-family workers will still be required to meet basic safety standards under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Farmers asked for these changes to give us the flexibility to run our businesses and build a program collectively that works for everybody,” said Rhonda Mulligan of Tri M Farms in Alberta. “This government has really listened to and responded to our concerns. Modern farms are highly safety-conscious operations and we take care of our farm workers like they are family.”