Skip to content

Farmers have a say on safety regulations

Local farmers and ranchers have the chance to give their feedback on farm safety through an online survey. “I’m happy that they’re doing consultations,” noted Gordon Graves, Alberta Beef Producers Zone 8 director and Iron River farmer.
Local farmer Dwayne Kalinsky believes the provincial government seeking feedback from Alberta producers is a step in the right direction, and plans to give participate through the online survey.

Local farmers and ranchers have the chance to give their feedback on farm safety through an online survey.

“I’m happy that they’re doing consultations,” noted Gordon Graves, Alberta Beef Producers Zone 8 director and Iron River farmer. “I’m hopeful that those consultations will strictly be to fix what’s not right rather than (get rid of) the whole thing and start from scratch.”

The province announced on July 12 that Albertans have the opportunity to participate in an online survey to help shape the future of farm workplace legislation. It will be available until Aug. 31.

Following consultations completed this summer, they plan to replace the NDP’s Bill 6, Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, with the Farm Freedom and Safety Act.

“Alberta farmers need common-sense rules that promote farm safety, not process and red tape,” said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen in a press release. “We’re going to repeal Bill 6, and I plan to meet with farmers this summer to develop the legislation to replace it.”

Graves said, “They understand the importance of listening to us. I want to say listening, because there’s a difference between listening and hearing. We’ve met with them before, and they said, ‘yeah, we listened’ and what they’ve done has been like, ‘where did they get that from?’”

The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act was created to introduce applicable Occupational Health and Safety Standards and Workers’ Compensation to all farms in order to make it on par with other operations in Alberta.

Dwayne Kalinsky, a local cattle and grain farmer, feels Bill 6 didn’t take into account the unique nature of agriculture-based businesses.

“Other industries aren’t the same as farming, so some of the stuff (the NDP government) proposed was totally out of left field,” he exclaimed. “Sometimes… we have to run long hours and that’s just a fact of life. Otherwise, animals, crops, and other parts are going to suffer. There has to be some compromise on what they were proposing to what’s functional.”

After taking a safety course, Kalinsky believes the current legislation would have negative impacts on his business.

“We had to have procedures for almost every chore on the farm, and I can’t pass my cost onto the next person because my price is dictated by a world market. Some industries can pass on the extra cost, I don’t have that option and it would have been devastating to try and have all those procedures (in place).”

After hosting initial discussions with agriculture organizations, the province is seeking further information on the difference between farms and other businesses, and the flexibility producers require in meeting workplace standards.

They will also be asking about the requirements of employers to have workplace insurance, allowing a choice of market insurance or Workers’ Compensation Board, exempting small farms from employment standards legislation, and promoting education and best practices to improve safety.

Bill 6 was tabled on Nov. 26, 2015, and later received second and third reading in December 2015.

“(One of the issues) was how dictatorial (the NDP) were when they rolled it out,” noted Graves. “They said, ‘this is how it is and that’s the end of discussion.’”

The decision was met quickly with protests due to the lack of consultations, and changes were made to amend the act, such as excluding family members from the regulations.

Bill 6 officially became a law on       Jan. 1, 2016.

Meetings are expected to be held across the province throughout the summer, some of which Dreeshen hopes to attend. Kalinsky is optimistic for what the outcome could be.

“I hope that logic prevails, and I agree there’s room for improvements on the farms, don’t get me wrong. It has to be tailored to suit the industry, because farming is unique in certain ways,” he detailed. “When it comes to harvesting crops, you only have a window of ‘X’ amount of days and it has to be done there or you don’t get it done. If you’re painting a skyscraper, you can take your sweet time and you’ve probably got all the time to paint it. It doesn’t work that way in agriculture, there’s small windows you’ve got to fit in there and there has to be some compromise to suit those situations.”

For more information, or to participate in the survey, visit

Robynne Henry

About the Author: Robynne Henry

Reporter for the Bonnyville Nouvelle
Read more