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Ag minister meets with local farmers ahead of Bill 6 replacement

Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry is getting local feedback before scrapping the Alberta Farm and Ranch Workplace Legislation. Devin Dreeshen was in Wembley Thursday speaking with Peace country farmers about what they would like to see instead of what’s currently in place.

He said he’s heard a lot about farmers wanting the ability to chose their own insurance provider, rather than just WCB Alberta.

“Lots of farmers would end up paying two insurance policies and it was something they wanted to be able to have that choice in private or WCB insurance.”

The farm safety bill came into effect on January 1st, 2016 and made Workers Compensation Board coverage mandatory for farms and ranches with paid workers. It also included them in Occupational Health and Safety legislation.

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Area farmers have spoken out against the bill in the past, including at a rally outside of the Grande Prairie courthouse in 2015 and a town hall meeting that saw more than 400 people attend.

The provincial government later changed the legislation to only apply to non-owner or non-family individuals who are earning wages. However, Dreeshen believes a lot of farmers were still confused.

“There was this misconception and something that would frustrate farmers where people would come out and say that they’re somehow putting their children in an unsafe work environment where that’s just the farthest things from the truth.”

While he wouldn’t go into specifics, Dreeshen said he plans to introduce legislation to repeal the bill this year, hoping to have it passed before Christmas.

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