Executive Director’s Message (PCN Winter 2016) JAN 11 2016 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Leanne Fischbuch, Executive Director
In mid-November, the Government announced proposed legislation that will affect farms and ranches across the province. The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, an omnibus bill, proposed changing legislation that focused upon four areas: occupational health and safety, labour relations, employment standards and workers’ compensation. Its goal is to establish new rules to allow for greater rights for farm workers. The bill passed on Dec. 10 with a vote of 44-29.
What does this mean for the agriculture sector? It is still uncertain, other than to say that effective Jan. 1, 2016, farming and ranch operations fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Code as well as the Workers’ Compensation Board. This means changes for farms and ranches in the province. It was not clear when other elements of the bill, namely Employment Standards and Labour Relations, would be implemented. Mixed messages continue to circulate.
From the perspective of Alberta Pulse Growers, the organization has been alongside other Alberta boards and commissions in expressing disappointment that the legislation has passed through the Government process so quickly. APG and others sent letters to the Premier requesting that the bill be suspended for a meaningful and fulsome consultation with the industry, but that effort was to no avail.
The objective, now that the bill has passed, is to be even more deliberate in bringing the valuable farmer voice to the table for the development of regulations under the legislation. Government has indicated that they want us to participate, but at this point the agriculture industry has not been informed as to how. This will not stop the cropping sector from finding our own way and prioritizing how to work together to have our voice heard.
In this edition of PCN, APG wanted to bring growers the most up to date information we could regarding regulated insurance through Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) that the Government has legislated. We’ve worked closely with WCB staff to ensure that our growers have in this edition the latest information on the program that was available by press time. Again, WCB comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. You can find this story on page 27.
APG has spent significant time on the Enhanced Farm and Ranch Workers Protection Act this fall, but there has been board and staff time allocated to other business including the regional meetings held across the province in November and December. Good discussion was had at the meetings around topics like faba bean as a crop option in the Peace region, growth in pulse acres, pricing and market outlooks and preparation for International Year of Pulses 2016. Opportunities to partner with the other commissions to hold these meetings has been well received by the producers as there are many demands on their own personal time. APG wishes to thank those growers who joined us at the regional meetings.
International Year of Pulses will be kicking off celebrations in Canada on Jan. 6. Alberta Pulse Growers is pleased to be able to partner with grower organizations across Canada and elsewhere to celebrate the United Nations declared year alongside industry. As you have read in previous editions of PCN, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to come together as an industry and focus on four areas which globally play a role: Productivity and Environmental Sustainability; Market Access and Stability; Food Security, Nutrition and Innovation; and Creating Awareness. Visit www.iypcanada.ca for more links to celebrations across Canada and the world.
Finally, please join APG from Jan. 26-28, 2016, as we partner with other host organizations to showcase Canada’s premier crop production and farm management conference at FarmTech 2016. APG will be holding its Annual General Meeting in the afternoon of Jan. 27. Please join us to find out more of what your organization has been doing.