Alberta's Prentice wants more research before pursuing farm safety changes

EDMONTON (CP) — Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says he's not considering putting workers on family farms under occupational health and safety rules.
Prentice adds it may be appropriate for workers in large, more corporate-type farming operations to be protected under labour legislation. He says he wants to see more research and debate on the issue before taking action.

Prentice made the comments while taking questions on a CBC Radio phone-in show.

Some farm groups have demanded that Alberta match what's being done in the rest of Canada and lift occupational health and safety exemptions on farm workers.

More than 470 farm labourers have died on the job in Alberta in the last three decades.

The Alberta Federation of Labour says Alberta Agriculture Injury Prevention Working Group was working with the provincial government on injury prevention in agriculture. It says in February 2013, senior bureaucrats in Alberta Agriculture suspended the activities of the group.

Nothing has been done on this since, said Vipond, adding it's rich that Prentice is calling for more research.

"If a worker goes to work, they deserve to be covered under the legislation, and the fact that they are going to a feedlot or an industrial agricultural site or a factory shouldn't make a difference whether or not we treat them as workers deserving these rights."