Farm Freedom and Safety Act (FFSA) Consultations
FARM FREEDOM AND SAFTEY ACT (FFSA) CONSULTATIONS:
- In 2015 the NDP government introduced the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act (Bill 6) which removed the exemption of farms and ranches from Employment Standards (ES), Occupational Health and Saftey (OHS) and Labour Relations (LR).
- Workplace legislation was put into place for ES/LS and OHS respectively through Bills 17 and 30. These changes applied only to waged, non-family workers.
- The UCP government plans to introduce the Farm Freedom and Safety Actthat will make changes to these associated legislations in the fall when the assembly resumes sitting on October 22, 2019.
- These changes will be based on ‘grassroots’ in-person consultations and an online survey which is now underway that will look to provide farmers an opportunity to add input to the legislation that reflects concerns and the unique nature of the sector.
- Online survey open until August 31, 2019.
- Consultation events are taking place across the province. See below for known dates and locations. If your location is not listed please consider contacting your MLA.
Government’s commitment for inclusion/consideration in FFSA:
- Require employers to maintain workplace insurance for farm workers, but allow employers to choose whether to purchase insurance from the market or from the WCB on the condition that basic standards of coverage are met for such things as medical and return-to-work support services, and protection against loss of income.
- Exempt small farms from employment legislation.
- Ensure basic safety standards.
- Recognize that operating a farm is unlike operating a conventional business, and that farmers and ranchers require greater flexibility in meeting employment standards.
- Minimize the red tape burden on farmers and ranchers.
POSITION OF THE ALBERTA WHEAT COMMISSION AND ALBERTA BARLEY:
1. We welcome the Alberta government’s commitment to replacing Bill 6 with the Farm Freedom and Safety Act.
2. Basic safety standards should be retained.
3. Need for continued support for AgSafe Alberta which is farmer-driven and voluntary and contributes to a culture of safety on farms and ranches.
- We very much support the move to providing producers with a private insurance option, while considering using Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) as a mandatory minimum coverage. Prior to mandatory WCB coverage, farmers were able to offer their employees superior coverage which often included extended benefits such as dental, vision and extended medical. Agricultural employees are hurt by these changes.
- We support the move to adopt an exemption for small farms from employment standards modeled after New Brunswick’s which exempts farms that “employ three or fewer employees over a substantial period of the year (not including family members.)”
- Stronger data collection. We recognize that WCB provides statistics on incidents and injuries that are important to help inform education initiatives and prevention programs. We recommend instituting a mechanism for tracking injuries and incidents regardless of insurance type (public or private).
- Industry led safety organizations such as AgSafe Alberta should continue to receive full government support they are committed to ensuring a culture of safety standards on farm, are producer directed and voluntaryand provide a meaningful service comparable to what is available in other provinces.