The NDP thought that their Bill 6 fiasco would blow over after they rammed it through the legislature on December 10th.
Bill 6, the “Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act”, was the NDP’s farm unionization law that makes Occupational Health and Safety rules and Workers Compensation coverage mandatory on farms with paid workers across the province.
The law was passed just like Obama care. The NDP had to pass the law to show us what was in the law. Or in this case, they had to pass the law before they could write the regulations that would affect about 50,000 farms and ranches across Alberta.
To be able to give input for these new regulations, farmers can sign up to be part of something called a technical working group. Farmers have to fill out a form to be selected to give specific input about specific areas like OHS regulations, labour relations and employment standards.
Here’s the rub: The meetings are held during seeding, lambing and calving season, to start. Then haying season and harvest to finish. Isn’t that convenient? If a farmer misses a meeting, they're kicked off the technical working group. It says right on the form, “If you cannot make any of the meetings your membership will be revoked.”
The Wildrose party took note of this clause in the technical working group form and issued a statement saying it obstructs farmers from participating.
Agriculture Minister, ONeil Carlier, decided to show us how much he knows and tweeted,“Wildrose is wrong. Participants won’t be turned away for missing a meeting.” But, it’s there, in black and white, on the documents for the technical working group. If you cannot make any of the meetings, your membership will be revoked. You’d think the Agriculture Minister might find some time to read the documents he wants Alberta’s farmers to fill out.
Scheduling these meetings during the busiest farming time on the calendar is proof that the NDP are, at best, culturally insensitive to the rural way of life. At worst, this attendance rule is designed to discourage participation by farmers in meetings that will drastically affect their businesses.
If Bill 6 consultations don’t reflect farmers’ busy schedules then these consultations don’t reflect farmers at all.