By Jamie Rieger
While many local producers are reserving comment on the controversial Bill 6, the Increased Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, until after they attend one of several town hall meetings this week, one county councillor said they do have some serious concerns.
Steve Wikkerink, councillor for Division 7 in the County of Forty Mile, said one of the biggest concerns he is hearing from his constituents is about corporate farms.
“A lot of family farms, where the father farms alongside his sons, are incorporated for tax purposes. Most of the people I have talked with understand the need for farm safety. Everybody wants their workers to get home safe at the end of the day, but the biggest issue for them is the discrepency between family farm and farms that are incorporated,” said Wikkerink.
Many farms in southern Alberta are third, fourth, and fifth generation operations with the grandfather, father, and children all working together.
“I want my son, who is an employee, to be as safe as any other employee. Health and Safety is to keep all of us safe. No farmer I have talked to disagrees with that,” he said.
Another issue of concern to local farmers is the documentation that will be required if Bill 6 passes legislation.
“If you are a small operation, how does that person manage all of it? What will the cost be if he has to hire somebody to do all of this documentation?” Wikkerink asked.
Wiith many having more questions than answers since the announcement of Bill 6, farmers and ranchers from across the province are attending a number of information sessions this week to find out more about the Bill and to offer their feedback to the provincial government.