Areport on the direction of farm safety in Alberta submitted to the minister of agriculture more than six months ago has leaked to the media. By all accounts from the usual suspects, the report contains the wrong answer. It recommends more education and a farm safety certification process, it steers clear of what should have been recommended — including farm workers and farm operators under mandatory OHS and WCB standards. But that should have been expected being the report was created by the Alberta Farm Safety Advisory Council, a group composed mostly of industry stakeholders and government appointees. It was unlikely that most those folks would go counter to the status quo.
The quandary for the ruling PC government is that Premier Redford promised in her leadership campaign that she would bring farm workers under mandatory OHS standards. The question now is will she do the right thing and keep her promise and ignore the advisory committee’s advice. Clearly the issue is causing the government some political consternation as they did not officially release the report after it was submitted some months ago. Neither the agriculture nor the human resources ministers are making any comments on this simmering issue. The opposition Wildrose Party has stated that it is supporting the report in maintaining the status quo for Alberta to remain the only province in Canada not to include farm workers and operators under OHS and WCB standards. Which causes one to ponder what advice southern Alberta’s newly appointed political overseer, Evan Berger, will be giving the PC government on this matter.