Advertisement

Anti-Bill 6 protesters return to Alberta legislature

EDMONTON — Farmers and ranchers converged once again on the Alberta Legislature Thursday as they continue to fight the government’s plans to pass Bill 6 before the end of the year.

About 1,500 people were in attendance. The rally is the third in a week.

“The purpose of this rally is to make our position clear,” said farmer Travis Olson, who ran for the Wildrose Party in the 2015 provincial election.

Keith Branson, a farmer from the Spruce View area, said this was his first ever protest.

“We have something to say and it needs to be heard,” Branson said, “and for us to come out of our comfort zone and do something like this should say a lot.”

Story continues below advertisement

The proposed legislation would bring farms under occupational health and safety regulations, and mandate workers compensation coverage. That led many farmers to fear it would restrict their children from working on the farm, or prevent neighbours from helping each other.

WATCH: Farmers angry over the Alberta NDP’s Bill 6 sing an anti-Rachel Notley song at a rally at the legislature in Edmonton Thursday.

A few hours after Thursday’s protest, Premier Rachel Notley spoke to reporters about Bill 6, repeating a promise that an amendment will be added to the bill, to make it clear Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) rules, and workers compensation coverage, will only apply to employers and paid employees.

Click here to read Bill 6 

Notley then recited a long list of things she says will not change under Bill 6, including children doing chores on the farm, neighbours volunteering to help neighbours, children participating in 4-H clubs, and recreational activities on the farm.

Story continues below advertisement

“It was, however, a mistake that our intentions and these limitations were not included in the text of the bill,” Notley said.

“They were always intended to be introduced in regulation, but between what was explicitly stated and what was intended, fear and miscommunication has filled the gap and I take complete responsibility for that.”

READ MORE: Alberta to amend Bill 6 to clarify kids, neighbours can still help out on family farms

Debate on Bill 6 inside the legislature has been lengthy, running from from 7:30 p.m. Wednesday until about 1 a.m. Thursday.

Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean told the crowd at Thursday’s rally his party will continue to fight the bill in the legislature.

“The Wildrose sat here until 1 a.m. last night until the NDP shut down the house,” Jean said, “and we’re going to do that every single day, every single night until this bill is stopped.”

19
A rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News
29
A rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News
39
Tom Vernon/Global News
49
A rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News
59
Tom Vernon/Global News
69
A rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News
Story continues below advertisement
79
A rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News
89
A rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News
99
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman speaks with a protester at a rally opposing Bill 6 at the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Global News

Later on Thursday, during Question Period, Notley noted there are “on average, 17 paid farm workers who die in Alberta every year, and their families receive no compensation.

Story continues below advertisement

“Interestingly, in B.C. when these rules were introduced, farm fatality rate was reduced by 68 per cent, the farm injury rate was reduced by 52 per cent, the serious injury rate was reduced by 41 per cent,” Notley said. “That’s what happened when these rules were introduced in B.C. and you know what? They still have farms in B.C., and that is the way we’re going to go here in Alberta.”

The first protest about Bill 6, on Nov. 27, only drew about 200 people, but since then, opposition to the bill has been growing. Farmers who can’t make it to the provincial capital have demonstrated by lining highways with farm equipment, and a rally at the legislature on Monday drew about 1,000 people.

WATCH: Alberta farmers rally at the Legislature for a second time

 

The government has also begun information sessions around the province, to overwhelming response. At one meeting in Red Deer, hundreds of people were turned away because there was not enough room to accommodate everyone.

Sponsored content