Mr. Speaker, farming is more than a job; farming is a way of life. Across Alberta thousands of farmers are rising up in anger because they see their way of life threatened by Bill 6. Already facing the usual challenges of markets, weather, and rising input costs, now farmers are facing legislation that threatens the very fabric of rural communities. This government has insisted that Bill 6 does nothing more than give farm workers the same rights afforded workers in other sectors. That sounds great, but it’s not nearly that simple.
Bill 6 tries to treat every one of the 45,000 family farms in Alberta like little factories, factories that operate from 9 to 5, shut down on weekends, and stay closed on statutory holidays. It completely ignores the reality of farming. There’s not a farmer that gets seeding done by working a 40-hour work week or gets harvest done by shutting down on weekends, Mr. Speaker, and I have yet to meet the cow that can plan her calving around weekends, after hours, and statutory holidays.
Let’s be very clear. Opposing Bill 6 does not mean opposing farm safety. But in its present form Bill 6 goes too far too fast and demands Alberta farmers accept rules that haven’t been discussed or agreed to, and this, to farmers, is completely unacceptable. It’s no way to treat the people that feed us and feed the planet. 2:50 We agree that employed farm workers should have a financial safety net in the eventuality of an injury or death, we agree that farm accidents should be investigated, and we agree with common-sense rules that are supported by facts and best practices. But we disagree with rules that have no clear details and threaten the 90 per cent of Alberta farms that are family operations. We disagree with ramming this legislation through without proper consultation. Please, delay the passage of Bill 6.
On November 30, 2015, Richard Starke spoke for farmers who found Bill 6 unworkable.
PC Caucus in the Legislature
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