Monthly Archives: December 2015

Local Poltics in Alberta Canada: A responce to a post on Bill 6.


This is a response directed at natashamintram that I’ve put together for the benefit of a friend and besides it caught my interest.

natashamintram’s full article can be found here.

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“Their roots go deep. It is so sad to see what’s happening to Alberta’s agricultural history: a major part of our thriving economy. Historically, the government has used the divide between urban and rural Alberta to its advantage by “pleasing” either one or the other. This isn’t right: the government must work with both to bring unity, not division.”

Alright I go a clear idea on where the author stands on this issue, but one question. Which Government are you talking about? people reading this article are likely going to assume you mean the current Alberta NDP, however you haven’t actually been clear enough for me to say one way or another.

“Bill 6 is a combined bill, which means it amends more than one bill. It will affect the Workers’ Compensation Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code for the Agricultural industry.”

Yes and it sound like you’d need to make adjustment in all those area to affect the work place protections that the current government has said they want to do.

“This bill infringes upon the rights and freedoms of farmers and ranchers to work their land. As Bill 6 is written, it will remove most farming and ranching activities from their current exempted status.”

Without a lot context this sound less like “rights” and more like “privileges” but yes if your take away someone’s exempt status they are probably going to argue they will lose their right to something, but that alone it’s terribly concerning. Not too long ago men lost the right to beat and rape their wives and people complained about that too, the question I have is? Are these privileges ones we ought to fight for as a society, or at they simply protecting a few while allowing for some sort of exploitation.

(by the way thank you for using citation I do appreciate it)

For your second citation it doesn’t seem that you’ve really offer much proof that the government hasn’t been contacting experts, or farmers, but I will take your word for it on the farmer at least. That’s problematic is the NDP are not following through on their promise I agree.

“As the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act are currently written, these measures will both take effect on January 1st, 2016. This is an inadequate amount of time to prepare for such drastic changes.”

Fair enough hopefully a good deal of leeway will be given over the next year or two, so that this will not be an issue.

“What about the farms and ranches that hire seasonal workers who aren’t family members? Now, due to that fact alone, Occupational Health and Safety will have complete jurisdiction over their operations, and they will have to make some serious decisions.”

 

“These farms and ranches will have to be brought up to OH&S standards, a process costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, which will be nearly impossible for small farms and ranches to afford.”

Really a small ranch or farm? can’t afford hundred or even thousands of dollars? No I understand that your typical farmer is not rolling in money, but if the costs are really only in the range of hundrends or thousands of dollars then there are likely enough financing options to pay for those changes. Now if the costs are a good deal higher then I have a question. does that make safety standards overkill, or does that mean that farms are ramshackle death traps? I’ve been to my fair share of farms over the years and some look like they won’t have an issue meeting most standards while others are in fact ramshackle deathtraps.

“Many times they have small profit margins and sometimes no profit at all.”

Yep and if that’s the case they like most business that teeter on a fine edge will eventually fail, this could be the catalyst for some that’s unfortunate, but that’s the capitalistic society we live in. Now I’m all for arguing if this is wrong on some moral level, but given how our society function do these small barely profitable farms and ranches actually bring significant value to society? Will the these changes causer enough fallout to warrant legitimate concern? I don’t know, but maybe you do and I’d like to hear what you have to say if you do.

“Currently, as the law is written, an OH&S Officer can enter the premises without notice or a warrant to search and seize anything that they deem in violation of the regulations, at any time of the day. This includes farmers’ and ranchers’ homes because they have their office inside which would be considered a worksite. If a farmer or rancher is non-compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, they’re subject to many penalties, and fines up to $500,000 or imprisonment.”

Yep regulation sucks, but if they can’t search business spaces then some farmers will undoubtedly hide questionable or illegal activates in their homes to prevent detection. Not all farmers by any means, but business is business and anyone who has lived in a rural community in Alberta knows there is no shortage of people who will go to great length if they think “they can screw the man.” It probably means in the long run there be more out building on farms, or extensions to preexisting homes, and for the first while there will be inconveniences. Though for routine inspection I doubt most OHS officers are not going to abuse their powers or try to make enemies with farmers, I’m such some will, but they will in turn end up suffering for it.

“WCB is being forced on farmers and ranchers, taking away their freedom of choice when most already have their own 24/7 private insurance with superior rates and benefits. Don’t you think they should have a few options to choose from when it comes to workplace insurance? To ensure the companies stay competitive so they can choose the best coverage possible? WCB will have complete control over how they provide coverage to the Agricultural Industry, without any competition. How would you like to have one sole provider of health insurance, auto insurance or home insurance?”

This is interesting do you have any more information on exactly what kinds of options farmers will and will not have?

 

“Farmers and ranchers already take safety precautions on their farms. The problem is that this bill moves way beyond “enhancing safety”4.”

Explain?

“Any person at any job can refuse unsafe work. We are free to choose where we work, who we work for and say no to something that could put us in a dangerous situation.”

Sadly the real world is not that simple, sometime people cannot refuse work because they can’t afford to be fired, and some time people won’t recognize the extent of the danger they might face. They reson why we have worker protections is to help counter balance for the imbalances of power that can occur which typically favor the employer.

“If it had truly only ever been about improving farm and ranch worker’s safety, there would never have been these major pieces of legislation. The appropriate way for the government to have addressed this would have been to document consultations, prepare proposals to farmers and ranchers, and begin improving safety programs through the farm safety programs that are already available.5

None of that really follows from what you’ve presented thus far. Farmer are people, some a good some a bad, and that means some farmer will ignore safety program and mistreat employees (to various levels) if they are able to. If you rules don’t have teeth they are only guideline and can’t be enforced. And if you can’t enforce there’s a risk that undue harm can be done with no recourse available to those harmed.

“There never would have been such a huge uproar like what you’ve seen in the media, or in person these past few weeks.”

Uproar can be manufactured or misplaced and often is, I’m interested in the facts as they are currently available not in how people feel about it as that is already quite clear.

“This didn’t happen over “safety precautions,” it happened because this bill threatens their entire livelihood. This is not an exaggeration.”

I happen to question both of those sentences, so far you haven’t really given a compelling case that peoples likely hood are a risk, only that people won’t like the changes. Which in all fairness is certainly true. People don’t like change, and people really don’t like change if has a chance of affecting the bottom line negatively. Though so far you have not offer a proper case for this risk, but have only asserted it.

I want to understand your real concerns what prevision are going to cause things to really hurt for farms. The only one so far that seem to have merit is the issue surrounding enforced WCB. And even then how is that actually going affect farmers how much will they have to put into those programs? And why should they be except in the first place?

” Here is a great analogy that was shared on the Facebook group: “I asked how my urban friends, many of whom live in beautiful but older houses, would feel if the Government passed legislation requiring all homeowners to have their houses brought up to 2016 Building Codes by January 1, 2016, or risk fines of up to $500,000?”

Okay so again lets clear this up does the government actually expect farmers to meet all the requirement by Jan 1st? I highly doubt it, and I and quite sure they couldn’t enforce it even if they where insane enough to try. In addition companies typically get warnings long before any fines are handed out so why would we expect the Albertan government to hand out fines starting Jan 1st? I don’t think we would, analogies can be useful, but I think here you’re leaping to the worse possible scenario without giving any reason too. I don’t think further fear mongering is useful in already tense situation, and weather you indented it or not I think that’s what happening in this paragraph.

That said I do think there will be adjustment period and that means some people with have to change how they are doing things, but I remain unconvinced that many even older farmers will be hurt by this. That said however I am still happy to be swayed if you can convince me that harm is a real possibility.

” Farmers and ranchers didn’t give the government a blank cheque to sign – the government did it themselves, and robbed the former of their entire livelihood.”

Uhmm that is quite the leap. It is not like the government has taken away farmers property rights or something equally crazy. Also do remember this is a democracy you do have some say, and if the NDP do royal mess this up then you, me, and everyone else will have to vote a new party in, but I honestly do not buy the constant fear monger that the NDP are going to destroy the province, they really isn’t evidence for it. The only real problem the NDP have is that people only like to vote them in when shit has already hit the fan and they need someone new to clean up the mess, and people get upset that they can’t magically fix everything over night. And do political parties NDP included make mistakes, yep, but as humans what do you expect?

Again fear mongering, a good tactic for getting people riled up, but it isn’t going to convince me that your right, only that you’re afraid or at least want other to be afraid.

” Farmers, ranchers and workers aren’t benefiting from these new legislation – the government is. It’s not that Alberta was the last province to have “safety and basic protection rights” for farm and ranch workers, it was the last province that the government didn’t control.”

really to me is should like it’s going to cost both money, and time, I think the legislation is there to help unrelated employees and give them protections already afforded to employees in other industries. You continued to talk about how this will affect famers, but so far you’ve paid next to no attention to paid employees. That’s why I I think you’ve allowed your biases to blind you to the third party in all this.

” How is that creating job growth? Not to mention all the oil field workers who have been laid off.”

That has literally nothing to do with Notley fun fast the middle east controls the price of oil and Saudi Arabia is paying for a war at the moment and is selling oil cheap to pay for it. That and the oilfield are a boom and bust to begin with that just the reality of having an economy base on oil, and they only people who can be blamed for that are the PC’s.

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The rest of the article is made of excepts about concerns and fear from other farmers and ranchers, I think there are some legitimate concerns in there, but I don’t not have any expertise in many complex issues which, so in conclusion it may be very true that this legislation is being pulled through the house far too quickly, and I’m sure that the full extent of the bill has yet to be determined. I think I will discuss this topic with my local MP and see what he has to say about it, but otherwise I think I don’t enough working though the issues I have with this article and why I think we still have way more question then answers.

Thanks to natashamintram for taking the time to write there article and I hope they don’t take this as any sort of personal attack, and it is intended only as a critique. additionally I do not expect a response, but would be happy to receive one if that ever where to suit natashamintram‘s fancy.

 

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