Gateway Gazette

CFIB Research Shows Bill 6 Ignores Realities of Farming

 

Majority of Alberta farmers oppose mandatory ‘one-size-fits-all’ legislation

Calgary, December 10, 2015 –The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today released survey data highlighting farmers’ serious concerns about the Alberta Government’s Bill 6 – the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.

According to the CFIB research, Alberta farmers say the most effective ways to promote farm safety are making safety measures more affordable (51 per cent), safety promotions at farm shows/demonstrations (45 per cent), and safety education programs in schools (42 per cent).  Only seven per cent of Alberta farmers say government legislative requirements are most effective at promoting farm safety.

Farmers care about their employees; in fact, most of their employees are friends and family. “CFIB members believe one farm fatality is one too many. That’s why the Alberta government needs to  listen to farmers and focus on practical ways to improve farm safety, rather than imposing blanket rules that don’t reflect the realities of farming,” said Amber Ruddy, CFIB’s Alberta Director.

“Even with the amendments to exempt family members, there are many outstanding concerns with Bill 6.  There are fundamental flaws in the legislation that will hamper growth and development of our agricultural sector.  Given this, the government needs to stop and consult with Alberta farmers.”

CFIB’s data reveals mandatory inclusion of legislation included in Bill 6 would have a negative impact on their farms:

  • 79 per cent say mandatory inclusion of agriculture under the Employment Standards and Labour Code would have a negative impact on their business
  • 75 per cent say mandatory inclusion of agriculture under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OH&S) would have a negative impact on their business
  • 62 per cent say mandatory inclusion of agriculture under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCB) would have a negative impact on their business

“Occupational Health & Safety, WCB, Employment Standards and the Labour Code were not written with the realities of farming in mind.  Agriculture is not a nine to five business, especially during peak production, like harvest or calving season.  We know calves aren’t all born before 4:59 pm,” added Ruddy.  “Alberta’s economy is already fragile and Bill 6 will hit Alberta’s agriculture sector hard.  The Government should be working to keep agriculture competitive in order to attract the next generation of farmers.   Unfortunately, Bill 6 will do the exact opposite.”

“Clearly there are many reasons why Bill 6 is unworkable for Alberta farmers,” said Ruddy.  “We urge the government to stop, listen and start a genuine consultation with farmers to find ways to improve farm safety without threatening the livelihood of thousands of Alberta producers.”

Alberta Farm Safety Backgrounder

Farmers outline best ways to promote farm safety – Ensuring affordable safety measures and safety education top the list; legislation least effective way to promote farm safety.

Canadians respect farmers most
How much respect do you have for each of the following in Canada? (scale of 0-10 where 10 is highest level of respect)

  • Farmers – 8.7
  • Small business – 8.2
  • Education system/schools – 7
  • Healthcare system – 7
  • Legal system/courts – 5.9
  • Large companies – 5.6
  • Banks – 5.6
  • Government – 5.3
  • Labour unions – 5.1

Source: CFIB Report – Perspectives on small business in Canada, Angus Reid Forum poll, July 2011, 2,028 responses. This representative poll of the Canadian public was conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of CFIB, in partnership with Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co. and Intel of Canada, Ltd.

Farmers’ knowledge of farm safety
How would you rate your overall knowledge of workplace injury prevention (farm safety)? (% response)
Source: CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line, Alberta

  • Excellent – 18%
  • Good – 63%
  • Fair – 15%
  • Poor – 4%

Source: CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line, Alberta

  • Most effective ways of promoting agri-business safety
    Which of the following government or industry actions would be the most effective at promoting safety in your agri-business? (% response)Incentives to make adoption of safety measures more affordable – 51%
  • Safety promos at farm shows, local workshops, demos – 45%
  • Safety education programs in schools – 42%
  • Accessible safety information online or in publications – 38%
  • On-farm training & consultations – 30%
  • Advertising dedicated to improve safety – 21%
  • Government legislative requirements (e.g. wrkrs’ comp, empl standards) – 7%
  • Other – 8%
  • Don’t know – 12%

Source: CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line, Alberta

CFIB Alberta farm members’ ideas to promote farm safety:

I feel too many regulations can make a working environment unsafe. The extra costs to these regulations through fees and taxes reduce the amount of cash available to spend in our local economy. Encourage and reward those of us being responsible instead of regulations.”

“Have courses offered free or at an affordable rate that teaches first aid, WHIMS, etc. Have them offered at local halls. Have speakers free to give the agricultural industry the tools that they need to help raise the bar in safety etc. Do NOT legislate or have OH&S involved.”

Increased information availability from best practices to research on safety and injuries made available to everyone in the agricultural sector. Those that are calling for the WCB to take over, are doing this from the outside and have a vested interest in this process. We provide better coverage for less cost to the worker and the organization with private coverage.”

Impact of Bill 6 Legislation:
Impact of mandatory inclusion of Alberta’s Employment Standards and Labour Code
What impact would the mandatory inclusion of agriculture under the Employment Standards and Labour Code have on your business? (% response)

  • Very Postive – 1%
  • Somewhat Positive – 2%
  • No Impact – 11%
  • Somewhat Negative – 24%
  • Very Negative – 55%
  • Don’t Know – 1%
  • Not Applicable – 6%

Source: CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line, Alberta

Impact of mandatory inclusion of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act
What impact would the mandatory inclusion of agriculture under the Occupational Health and Safety Act have on your business? (% response)

  • Very Postive – 1%
  • Somewhat Postive – 7%
  • No Impact – 9%
  • Somewhat Negative – 32%
  • Very Negative – 43%
  • Don’t Know – 4%
  • Not Applicable – 3%

Source: CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line, Alberta

Impact of mandatory inclusion of Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Act
What impact would the mandatory inclusion of agriculture under the Workers’ Compensation Act have on your business? (% response)

  • Very Postive – 1%
  • Somewhat Postive – 4%
  • No Impact – 25%
  • Somewhat Negative – 23%
  • Very Negative – 39%
  • Don’t Know – 0%
  • Not Applicable – 7%

Source: CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line, Alberta

CFIB’s Agri-business Bottom Line Survey was completed online by 109 of CFIB’s Alberta agri-business members in 2013.

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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