County perplexed and unhappy with proposed Bill 6

County of Stettler's Agricultural Services Board (ASB) received some detailed information on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from Barry Yaremcio.

County of Stettler’s Agricultural Services Board (ASB) received some detailed information on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from Barry Yaremcio, beef and forage specialist at provincial government’s ag-info centre, on the implications of the proposed regulations under Bill 6, especially those regarding the OHS/WCB (Occupational Health and Safety/Workers’ Compensation Board) program for farmers.

Through a seven-slide presentation, Yaremcio encapsulated the important websites and the registration process that farmers and ranchers would need to go through upon implementation of the new regulations if the Bill becomes law as it currently stands.

He gave examples of possible new insurance premium charges farmers and ranchers would incur with the figures ranging from $875 to $1475 on an annual basis.

“Until we receive some clarification on the bill, my thoughts at this time are that we don’t understand all of the implications this bill and what mandated WCB will mean to the agriculture industry,” said Quinton Beaumont, director, agricultural services board. “I hope when we attend the town hall in Vegreville, we will understand more.” The town hall meeting Beaumont referred to will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

“Do I think safety on farms and ranches is important – yes. Do I think Bill 6 is the best avenue to go down? I’m not convinced,” Beaumont said.

“I believe farmers and ranchers feel threatened because life-changing legislation, which they have had no say about, is being imposed upon them,” he added. “Also, that we don’t understand it very well, and it is happening very quickly, one would wonder if we couldn’t slow this process down a little.”

Reeve Wayne Nixon, who weighed in on the presentation and all the changes that are being expected, said, “My initial reaction would be to say that we support and are committed to farm and ranch safety, but I am disappointed there was no consultations held beforehand regarding Bill 6, especially with the people it would affect most.”

“This lack of explanation or consultation has left us all wondering what ‘exactly’ this Bill means to rural Alberta, and as a result, it has left the interpretation up to our imaginations,” continued Nixon. “As far as implementing legislation to allow investigation into serious injuries and fatalities on farms and ranches, this is already being done in our region by the RCMP.”

Calvert Haustein, a fifth generation cattle farmer based in Erskine, was concerned about proposed regulations focusing on children’s life on the farm.

“Just like they go to school and learn mental practical tasks and assignments to become successful adults, but the difference is that we live with our learning and our work, in our backyard on our own land 24/7 365 days a year,” said Haustein. “My family doesn’t have a job or occupation so much as a way of living, and we meet the day with what needs to be done, and that’s where we start.”

“The NDP stepped into government with Alberta’s oil industry in distress, and in less than seven months it seems that they want to attack one of Alberta’s only other industry, agriculture.”

“My thought was that if the NDP had not led the Alberta government in 75 years, they would tread lightly, especially if they wanted to be elected for another term, they would listen to the people of Alberta on matters they propose or in this case impose,” added Haustein. “I think I’m wrong. They are taking advantage of the majority position they have, and really don’t seem to be looking too far out into the future in terms of longevity of their career in legislature.”

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