Friday, August 24, 2012

Calgary Herald calls out Tories on farm safety

In a fairly blunt editorial Wednesday, the Calgary Herald called out Alberta Premier Alison Redford for not following through on her promise to regulate safety on Alberta farms, a promise made when she was running for premier.

The paper called the government hiding behind the family farms argument (a charitable label...) as "an exasperating stalling tactic" and noted that while the government claims it is trying to ensure Alberta has the right regulations, "We have no regulations, Minister Hancock."
There are none covering the occupational health and safety concerns of farm workers and none providing them with Workers’ Compensation in the event of injury. Nor are there any governing their working hours, rates of pay or holidays, and no regulation mandating inquiries into farm fatalities.
After detailing all the way kids have been killed working on farms, the editorial concludes:
In December 2008, provincial court Judge Peter Barley issued his recommendations after his inquiry into the asphyxiation death of Kevan Chandler six years ago in a High River-area grain silo. He said, “No logical explanation was given as to why paid employees on a farm are not covered by the same workplace legislation as non-farm employees.” 
That was nearly four years ago, yet Agriculture Ministry spokesman Stuart Elson said Monday, studies are underway by two ministries to determine if the province should enact farm workplace safety laws. 
Enough studies. Been there, done that, and it only resulted in more studies. Alberta remains the only province in Canada without laws to protect farm workers.
Premier Redford, keep your promise. 
Ouch. It is not often that an Alberta newspaper puts a beat-down like that on the Tories. The question is whether it will matter. 

In related news, I have a paper being published this fall on the narratives Alberta conservative MLAs have used to stall and derail demands for safety regulation on Alberta farms that I will post a link to when it is published.

-- Bob Barnetson

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