End the Harvest of Death: Farmworkers deserve safety protection

On June 18, 2006, Kevan Chandler went to work, as usual, as a farm worker at the local feed mill. He never made it home again that day. While cleaning out a silo, he was buried by falling grain.

Because he was a farmworker, government safety officers didn't investigate, and the employer could not be held accountable for the accident. His wife couldn't get WCB benefits, and his kids were left without a father.

This is because under Alberta law, farm workers are not covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, or any other labour law. They are denied the basic rights the rest of us take for granted.

Judge Calls for Safety Inclusion

In 2008, a fatality inquiry was called to explore the causes of Kevan's death and to examine ways to prevent similar deaths in the future. In January 2009, Judge Peter Barley released his findings.

Judge Barley states that Kevan's death could have been prevented if farm workers had been included in occupational safety legislation. He recommends changing the law:

"It is recommended that paid employees on farms should be covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSA 2000 Ch. O-2, with the same exemption for family members and other non-paid workers that apply to non-farm employers." (p. 7)

Join the Campaign for Farm Workers

UFCW Canada has launched a campaign to pressure the Alberta government to include farm workers in safety legislation. UFCW represents farm workers in B.C., Ontario and Manitoba, and are now extending their campaign for farm-worker rights to Alberta.

They have set up a website, and launched a letter writing campaign.

Help farm workers achieve basic safety protections. Here is what you can do:

  1. Tell the Alberta government to start taking farm safety seriously by sending a quick e-mail to Premier Ed Stelmach that calls for the immediate implementation of Justice Barley's recommendations.
  2. Encourage your family members, friends, co-workers and neighbours to help make a difference by joining the End the Harvest of Death campaign.

Together we can make sure that Kevan Chandler's death was not in vain.

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