Celebrating Farm Workers Day 2017

Progress has been made but it’s time to for the government to finish the job

As Alberta marks the province’s twelfth annual Farm Workers Day, we celebrate the meaningful progress made on ensuring farm and ranch workers have the same basic rights as all other workers in the province, but recognize there is still work to be done by the government to finish the job by ensuring a strong regulatory framework that protects the rights of agriculture workers.

“When one worker is denied their rights, it undermines the rights of all workers,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, “The Notley government’s decision to pass the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act to include agricultural workers in Alberta’s workplace laws was a victory for all workers. Now it’s time for them to get the job done.”

Because the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act is being proclaimed in stages, the fine details of the regulations are being determined over the course of several months. To help with this process the government formed six technical working groups to develop recommendations on how employment standards, occupational health and safety, and labour relations requirements should be applied to the agricultural sector. The labour relations and employment standards working groups publicly reported their recommendations earlier this year, while the remaining occupational health and safety working groups have yet to publicly report.

“The Notley government needs to be diligent when developing the regulatory framework what will protect these vulnerable workers and must not cave to industry pressure to exempt agriculture workers from many of the rules other workers benefit from,” said McGowan, “It’s long past time that Alberta’s farm and ranch workers experience the same workplace protections that farm and ranch workers in every other province in Canada already have.”

More than 50,000 Albertans work in the agricultural sector. They account for 2.6 per cent of our workforce — and until the government of Premier Notley started work reforming the laws around agricultural workplaces, they had few legal protections or rights.

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