Farm Fatalies Go Unmentioned

The Alberta government has stopped reporting farm fatalities and labour groups are asking why.

"This year when we went to find out how many people had died, because we try to do that every year, and we found that the government of Alberta wouldn't report farm fatalities anymore," says Nancy Furlong with the Alberta Federation of Labour. "We don't even get to know publicly how many of them have lost their lives."

The Alberta Federation of Labour says the intent is to hide the lack of workplace protection for farms workers in the province.

"Something needs to happen because farm workers are not covered by occupational health and safety legislation, they are not covered by mandatory workers compensation coverage, they are not entitled to join unions," says Furlong. "So they are treated very badly in terms of their protection as workers."

The federation says Alberta is the only province where farm workers aren't covered by occupational health and safety rules.

Furlong says they have never received a satisfying explanation for why farm workers are not covered.

She says they understand it's hard to differentiate between child labour and family farms, but says that is no excuse.

"So there is a challenge there, but no one is rising to that challenge," Furlong says. "From our perspective it's better to say they are all covered and then make exceptions, rather than say they are all not covered."

DrumhellorOnLine, Tues Aug 21 2012

Byline: Sarah Copeland

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