The most important debate of the last session of the Legislation was on Bill 6. Bill 6 was more than a piece of legislation, it was a telling sign of the NDP’s lack of commitment to consultation and respect for the people who work in Alberta’s farm and ranching communities. It was also a concerning vision of how this government will react when they make a mistake.
I will be clear: the entire Progressive Conservative Caucus supports the inherent objectives of what Bill 6 was trying to achieve. It is a worthy goal to try and make farms all the safer. However, the way that the NDP rolled this legislation out and the consultations since have been frankly disastrous and frustrating for all our family farmers in Alberta. Firstly, the legislation was introduced before the consultations even began and was passed while they were still ongoing. The agriculture Minister himself even admitted that this was a strange way to legislate on an issue.
Secondly, at these consultations the information distributed contained facts that showed that the government was looking to include family members and neighbours in the mandated WCB coverage. This in spite of the statements that were being given daily by the Minister that this was not in fact the case. Even now, the same sort of misinformation being shared by the NDP at the consultation meetings. Farmers and Ranchers are rightly concerned with what this could mean for the coming regulations – and the future of their businesses.
The consultations that are taking place right now are also very concerning. In order to do this correctly, the government should be engaging with as many people as possible all over Alberta. Instead what we hear is that the meetings are only taking place in Calgary and Edmonton and only a select group of people are being invited to participate.
For an issue this important and for a topic this pressing for our farming and ranching communities this is unacceptable. The consultations should be taking place all over Alberta in every farming town, with every interested individual having the opportunity to fully participate.
The Progressive Conservatives will continue to stand up for farmers and ranchers and make sure that they are able to provide input at the consultations and ultimately, the regulations will reflect the concerns that we are hearing every day.