Heated Bill 6 meeting in Lethbridge draws crowd of nearly 1000

LETHBRIDGE — One by one, farmers and ranchers took to the microphone, emotional, angry and frustrated.

The venue was packed, 500 were inside with another 300 outside. Farmer Don Althen said they came with a united message.

“Everybody would like them to take time, six months or a year and talk to the people involved in agriculture and come up with a plan.”

Minsters Oneil Carlier and Lori Sigurdson couldn’t say anything to please the angry crowd.

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

Industry members like Laci Pighin said despite the meetings, they aren’t getting answers.

“It went horrible, I feel that the voices of everybody in attendance isn’t being heard, I feel that they aren’t answering any questions and everybody is leaving disappointed,” she said.

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Callum Sears from Stavely said he wants to know why a choice between private coverage or workers compensation isn’t an option.

“They won’t allow you to pick one of the other, you have to go with single desk, and I’m not going to pay for two, so I have to go with WCB. It only covers you for when you’re actually at work, where mine covers me 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. WCB only covers you at work and it costs more,” he said.

WATCH: In the middle of Alberta-wide protests, an injured former farm worker speaks out in support of Bill 6. Bindu Suri reports.

Lethbridge-East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick said she heard today’s crowd loud and clear.

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“We got some fabulous, really worthwhile comments from people,” she said. “Certainly I’m taking back a list for Monday morning for the caucus meeting.”

Answers or not,  it was made clear by the crowd, they stand strong.

“I have never seen an issue that has galvanized the support of growers amongst all commodities groups as this bill,” adds Ed Vandenberg, a local potato grower. “There’s a unified opposition to Bill 6”.

“They lit the fire under rural Alberta like no individual commodity group could,” added John Degroot.  “Now, we will stand united to make this right, because there is not one farmer in Alberta that wants to have a hurt family member or a hurt employee. I want to see my employees covered with insurance but I want a seat at the table before they implement the regulation.”

WATCH: Farmers and ranchers from across Alberta protested at the legislature in an effort to kill the farm safety bill which they say they were never consulted about. Tom Vernon reports.

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