Ag-Coalition Press Release on Bill 17

Jun 07, 2017

The AgCoalition is expressing concern over the Government of Alberta's process in introducing the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act (Bill 17).  Introduced on May 24, Bill 17 has the potential to seriously disrupt the agriculture sector's unique culture of cooperation and family-style relationships between employees and employers.

Bill 17 includes a number of wide-ranging provisions designed to make changes to Alberta's employment standards process and labour codes, including provisions that give farm and ranch workers the right to unionize.

The introduction of Bill 17 comes only months after the conclusion of a lengthy government consultation process to develop provisions under Bill 6 - the Enhanced protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act - many of which are now irrelevant under the new legislation.  Additionally, in many cases where subject matter does align between Bill 6 and Bill 17, the new legislation ignores recommendations that came out of all the consultation sessions.

"The Bill 6 consultation process saw many farmers and ranchers work tirelessly alongside other consultation participants to develop recommendations that would work at the farm and ranch level", said Ken Erickson, Ag Coalition Chair.  "The government's process to introduce Bill 17 is inconsistent with this work and introduces new provision that may not be manageable for the agriculture industry.  Unionization on farms and ranches could seriously harm the viability of this sector.  It's part of the agriculture community's culture to treat farm and ranch employees like family.  But if employees feel pressured into unionizing, a strike could result in animal welfare issues and irreversible damages to crops."

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