United Conservatives Will Repeal Bill 6, Revitalize Alberta’s Ag Sector

Jason Kenney with the Beagle family on their J&H Cattle Co farm near Rimbey

RIMBEY, AB (March 12, 2019): A United Conservative government will make good on a key promise to Alberta’s farm families and repeal Bill 6.

“Three years ago, tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers, and other concerned community members took part in province-wide demonstrations. Their rallying call was as clear: ‘Kill Bill 6.’ The NDP ignored them. We will not. A United Conservative government will repeal Bill 6,” said UCP leader Jason Kenney.

“Despite widespread concerns, the Notley government chose to force Bill 6 through the Legislature before consulting most of the people most seriously impacted. The NDP put the cart before the horse, and as a result lost all public trust with farm and ranch families. To rebuild that trust, there is no acceptable alternative but scrapping the bill.”

If elected, a UCP government will immediately launch comprehensive consultations with farmers, ranchers, agriculture workers and others on how best to balance the unique economic pressures of farming with the need for a common sense, flexible farm safety regime. The goal of these consultations will be to develop recommendations for the introduction of the Farm Freedom and Safety Act (FFSA), which will be passed into law in 2019.

The FFSA will:

  • Repeal Bill 6 (i.e. the 2015 Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.)
  • 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 as long as basic standards of coverage are met.
  • 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 much greater flexibility in meeting employment standards.
  • Minimize the red tape burden on farmers and ranchers.

“The NDP’s ideologically driven agenda, including Bill 6, is undermining Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food industry,” said Kenney. “Between the start of 2015 and the end of 2018, employment in Alberta’s agriculture sector has fallen by 19 percent – that’s 11,300 jobs that no longer exist. Alberta farm receipts for the first nine months of 2018 were down by nearly six percent from the previous year.”

To help address this, United Conservatives will implement several additional commitments:

  1. Eliminate the Carbon Tax.
  2. Cut taxes on the agricultural sector through Job Creation Tax Cut[1].
  3. Cut red tape on agribusiness by one third through the UCP’s Red Tape Reduction Action Plan[2].
  4. Fight Back Against Attacks on Agriculture. There are growing attacks from well-funded special interests against our livestock industries, together with modern crop science and agricultural techniques. In many ways, these attacks resemble the campaign of vilification targeting Alberta’s energy industry in recent years. A United Conservative government will work with the agriculture industry to tell the truth about our safe, ethical, and environmentally responsible farming practices and products.
  5. Fight for Market Access. Indian tariffs continue to block Alberta pulse exports, while China recently restricted Canadian canola exports. A United Conservative government will exert pressure on the federal government to use all tools at its disposal to open these and other markets, and Jason Kenney would fight for Alberta producers in key markets overseas, as he did in India last September.
  6. Eliminate interprovincial trade barriers. A UCP government will lead a national effort to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers as part of the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan.
  7. Ensure that farmers, not government, set key agriculture research priorities. The UCP trusts farmers to decide what type of research would provide the most benefit. The intent of public research is to support the agricultural industry with long-term research goals, which help improve Alberta’s competitiveness.
  8. Perform a comprehensive review of risk mitigation programs to ensure they are streamlined and delivering maximized benefits to agri-food industry participants while ensuring Albertans are getting the greatest value for their investment with the least exposure.  This will include crop and livestock insurance programs.
  9. Streamline the Alberta Agricultural Services Corporation so that it improves service and responsiveness to farmers.
  10. Strengthen Property Rights by pursuing constitutional entrenchment of property rights, and adoption of an Alberta Property Rights Protection Act[3]
  11. Consult on land sales – In order to replace good agricultural land being lost to urban expansion, a United Conservative government would cooperate with municipalities seeking auctions on parcels of Crown land for agricultural use, where appropriate.

“Right now our farmers and ranchers are going through trying times, made more difficult by NDP policies that have driven up costs and increased red tape,” Kenney said. “That is why damaging NDP policies must be reversed. It restricts the potential for this sector to grow and create new jobs.”

“Alberta’s agriculture industry helped to build our province, and under a United Conservative government it will be a key part of a prosperous economic future.”

A comprehensive backgrounder with additional details on today’s announcement can be found, here.