Alberta employment minister under pressure to change farm safety: Stakeholders write letters to minister asking for legislative changes to cover farm workers

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) called on Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk to 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," said Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, which represents 140,000 workers.

The AFL sent a letter to Lukaszuk calling on him to extend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) 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 OHSA, which permits a minister to convene a board of inquiry into the circumstance of an accident, to apply to the farming and ranching industries.

There have been more than 160 accidental farm deaths in the last decade in Alberta, according to the AFL.

"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," said 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 Canada.

Canadian Safety Reporter, Sat Jan 21 2011

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