Friday, February 22, 2013

Regulating child labour on Alberta farms

Alberta PrimeTime did a piece on farmworker safety this week. The interviews were fairly interesting. The discussion centred on protecting paid child farm workers, rather than all children working on farms. I would think the proportion of child farm workers getting paid is pretty small—most children working on farms are going to be working on their families’ farms for no wages.

The political attraction of protecting this (effectively fictional) group is that farmers will buy in because it won’t affect them. But it means that the majority of children working on farms won’t be protected. Which can’t possibly be in the public interest.

The other interesting piece is when the Wildrose Agricultural Producers' president recounted speaking to Dave Hancock (minister in charge of occupational health and safety) two weeks ago who apparently indicated that it is rural PC MLAs who are blocking efforts to extend basic safety rights to farm workers. This jives with the electoral explanation that most analysts subscribe to—but nice to see it confirmed by a lobbyist.

-- Bob Barnetson

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