Alberta’s Minister of Labour Christina Gray did a tour of a tomato, cucumber and an organic greenhouse with House Speaker Robert Wanner and the chair of the Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association Albert Cramer on March 27.
Gray’s visit came after she initially canceled her visit at the end of February, which drew concerns from Cramer on behalf of greenhouse growers who wanted to address the NDP’s Bill 17 in conjunction with labour law changes, which no longer provided an exemption for greenhouses and staff they employ. Greenhouses were previously categorized as agriculture and now will be classified as an “industrial operation.”
While disappointed at the time, Cramer seemed to be pleased with the tour and the better understanding Gray gained out how greenhouses should be an agricultural industry.
“We had a good tour,” said Cramer.
“I think it was good for her to see the actual greenhouses and see the industry in Medicine Hat-Redcliff and just to get a better feel for the owners. I hope it was an eye-opener to her because our fight with the government is tell them now ‘that we are agriculture.’ they’re having trouble seeing that we’re agriculture. For us it doesn’t make any sense that they see it that way.”
She also went and talk to greenhouse workers who want to work more hours and not be paid overtime because the industry will either hire more people or cut hours.
“They think they’re helping the employees but they’re not,” said Cramer.
“I hope she kind of got that feel today. I’m not sure how that went. She talked to the employees, she made time for a couple of different ones, so it was good.”
Minister Gray mentioned that the government values derive around the hard working greenhouse growers that provide food to Albertans year round.
“Our government values the hard work that greenhouse growers do every day to ensure that Albertans have access to the food they need year round,” said Gray.
“As the Minister of Labour, meeting with business owners across the province is a priority for me, this is why I was pleased to travel to Redcliff last week to meet with owners of two community greenhouses, as well as staff at Red Hat Co-op. During my visit I had the opportunity to learn more about these family run businesses and I appreciated the opportunity to sit with both local and foreign workers to hear their experiences first-hand. My office will continue to work closely with members of the AGGAA on all matters that are important to them and their businesses.”