Gateway Gazette

Bill 6 ‘Consultation’ Fraught with Problems: CFIB

Alberta Government still doesn’t get it; hosts sessions in big cities during busy farming season

Calgary – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling into question the parameters the Alberta Government set for the consultation on Bill 6 – the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.  A new Ag Coalition recently raised concerns and the sentiment is echoed by Alberta agri-business.  The Alberta Government is currently convening working groups to develop technical elements of the Bill 6 legislation.  The meetings are being scheduled from March to August in Calgary and Edmonton.

“The inflexible and highly selective nature of the meetings shows the Alberta Government has their own agenda in mind,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director for CFIB. “The reality is spring is calving and seeding season, while meetings in August may begin to interfere with harvest time.  Why doesn’t the government meet farmers in the rural communities where these policy changes will have an impact?”

Six technical working groups (TWGs) are being established to work on the development of employment standards regulations, occupational health and safety (OHS) standards, and labour relations legislation.  Stakeholders can fill out the six-page form to apply to be considered for one of twelve seats at one of the tables.  Spots have been earmarked on each table for representatives from the agricultural sector, labour groups, and technical experts.

“Rolling out the red carpet for labour groups by guaranteeing spots on all committees is an attempt to water down the voice of farmers.  There are inherent flaws in how this consultation was designed, including that workers’ compensation changes were never given a meaningful opportunity for discussion,” added Ruddy.  “Alberta’s economy is in a fragile state and Bill 6 hits Alberta’s agriculture sector hard.”

CFIB urges the government to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better process to genuinely listen and respond to the serious concerns about the legislation being raised by agri-business owners across the province.

CFIB is the business voice for agriculture, representing 7,200 independently owned and operated agri-businesses in the country (750 agri-business members in Alberta), the majority of which are primary producers.

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