For the Express
Local farmers pitched in ideas as government drafts the new provincial Farm Freedom and Safety Act Bill 6.
About 20 farmers and ranchers shared their views at a consultation meeting Aug. 23 in High Prairie co-hosted by Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn and Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
“We intend to introduce new legislation this fall that will cut red tape and reduce the regulatory burden on Alberta farmers,” Rehn says.
“Our government is committed to restoring balance, fairness and common sense to the regulation of Alberta’s agriculture sector.”
Elected in April 2019, the new government under the United Conservative Party set a priority to rescinded Bill 6 created by the former NDP government in 2016.
High Prairie was the final session for the series that stepped in 26 communities over the summer.
Producers and partners discussed questions about employment standards, labour relations, workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety farmer-led research and red tape.
“It’s very positive,” Rehn says.
“Farmers and ranchers are happy that the government is listening to what they have to say.
“We feel their input is vital to get Bill 6 right, to meet their needs.”
The agriculture minister says the Bill is only good for farmers.
“We’re trying to do our best to return to the Alberta Advantage, to get people back to work,” Dreeshen say.
He says that a main issue is that farmers want a choice of insurance.
“They want to keep their private insurance,” Dreeshen says.
Many farmers also suggest an educational component should be included in replacing Bill 6, he says.
The minister says the government wants regulations that support agriculture.
“Alberta farmers need common-sense rules that promote farm safety – not process, not red tape,” Dreeshen says.
Rehn says the government is committed to:
- -Change legislation to give farmers a choice where and how they insure their workers;
- -Provide an exemption from employment legislation for small farms;
- -Recognize that farmers and ranchers have unique business requirements and need much greater flexibility in meeting workplace legislative standards.
More information is available on the government website at gov.ab.ca.