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Ag Safety Week just lip service

Posted on April 9, 2014 by Taber Times

March 9 – 15 was Canadian Agricultural Safety Week. Here in Alberta it gained very little attention and has had no effect. This year`s theme “Let’s talk about it” fit very well with the Alberta government policy of providing lip service only to our agriculture sector and refusing to do anything concrete.

The Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, the Honourable Verlyn Olson, in a recent letter to the Farmworkers Union of Alberta, advised that ARD has amalgamated the Farm Safety Program into the Workforce Development Unit to work more closely with recruitment and retention specialists…. ARD has collaborated with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) to develop the Alberta FarmSafe Plan. The Alberta FarmSafe Plan has been developed to comply with the Alberta Government Certificate of Recognition (COR). Farms that implement the FarmSafe Plan can apply for their COR, making them eligible for Workers’ Compensation Board rebates.

Unfortunately, the Alberta government has so far refused to enact any legislation to back up this good Minister’s efforts. Without OHS and other legislative standards all of the works by Agriculture & Rural Development  are denigrated to nothing more than helpful suggestions that have no force or effect, and just become another incarnation of more than 35 years of the same thing.

Persons that work in our agriculture industry remain at peril of physical harm, and ag employers remain exposed to excessive risk and liability. The public purse remains on the hook to pay for all the damages.

We must do more then “Hope.”

ERIC MUSEKAMP

Farmworkers Union of Alberta, president

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