The provincial government is hoping the public can help in further forming labour laws for farms and ranches.
In May of last year, the government put together six technical working groups to review and make recommendations on applying employment standards, labour relations and occupational health and safety requirements to meet the sector’s unique needs.
Recommendations made by the working groups were — farms/ranches be exempt from hours of work, breaks and overtime pay; at least four days off for each 28 days of work for non-family employees is reasonable; vacation/holiday and pay for those should apply with special rules around general holiday pay; work of non-family employees under 16 must not be detrimental to health, education or welfare and parental consent must be obtained; non-family employees 12 to 13 should be limited to 20 hours per week.
In addition, greenhouses as well as nurseries, sod farms and mushroom farms be considered ‘primary production’ with the same standards and exemptions as the rest of agriculture regarding minimum wage; the need for sufficient phase-in of changes combined with increased education and awareness; plus that the government explore options to ease the burden of job-protected leaves.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier thanked the technical working group members for their work and recommendations.
“The recommendations are an excellent starting point to ensure waged non-family farm workers have the same rights as other workers, while preserving the way of life that is the foundation of rural Alberta,” he said.
Meanwhile, Labour minister Christina Gray was pleased with this, the first set of recommendations, and is hoping that Albertans will provide some honest and frank feedback.
Now, the province has posted those recommendations and is looking for public feedback. Those interested in having their voice heard can go to www.alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch-consultations. Once there, links are provided to the recommendations along with space for providing feedback.
The public has until April 3 to give the government feedback on the recommendations, after which the government will draft regulations to amend the present legislation that was passed in December.
Recommendations from the other four technical working groups is expected in the near future.