There are growing calls to extend legislation to cover farm workers,
EDMONTON, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - As the death toll continues on Alberta farms,
the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) today called on Employment
Minister Thomas Lukaszuk to do the right thing and extend health and
safety laws to protect farm workers.
"Three more Alberta farm workers have died in recent weeks, and yet the
government continues with its absurd policy of excluding farms and
ranches from the laws designed to make workplaces safe in other
industries," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of
Labour, which represents 140,000 workers.
Today, the AFL sent a letter to Minister Lukaszuk, calling on him to
extend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers' Compensation Act to cover all paid farm workers.
The AFL also requested that the Farming and Ranching Exemption be amended to allow for investigations into all farm-related deaths,
serious injuries, or injuries involving a child. This could be
accomplished by extending Section 38 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which permits a Minister to convene a board of inquiry into the
circumstance of an accident, to apply to the farming and ranching
The letter says: "We note that in the recent deaths Occupational Health
and Safety inspectors have been unable to conduct investigations due to
the continuing exemption of paid farm workers from the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It is inconsistent to say the province wants to improve farm safety
when it does not investigate accidents to establish how they happened."
This change to the Farming and Ranching Exemption could be accomplished by a simple Order-in-Council and would result in
a legal avenue for investigations into serious incidents involving paid
There have been more than 160 accidental farm deaths in the last decade,
clear evidence that farms are industrial worksites like any other and
that farm workers deserve the same protection as other Albertans.
"These tragic accidents underline the absurdity of paid farm workers
being excluded from the protection that other Albertans enjoy," says
McGowan in the letter.
"There is a growing feeling in Alberta that farm workers deserve the
same protection that other Albertans enjoy and that accidents on farms
must be investigated," says McGowan. Similar letters are being been
sent to the Minister by NDP MLA Rachel Notley, the Alberta Liberals and
by Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial
Workers (UFCW) Canada.
SOURCE Alberta Federation of Labour
For further information:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ cell 780-218-9888 or office 780-483-3021