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Notley posts open letter on Facebook to address farmers’ Bill 6 worries

Notley
Farmer and farm families gather at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dean Bennett

EDMONTON – Premier Rachel Notley has posted an open letter on social media that tries to address concerns that have been expressed over the government’s proposed farm safety legislation.

Notley says Bill 6 was introduced to help prevent deaths and injuries on farms and to give workers the same rights as other employees in the province.

She says the legislation would not interfere with a family’s ability to teach its children about farming, to have them do chores or to accept help from neighbours.

READ MORE: Alberta farmers sound off as controversial Bill 6 is debated in legislature

Notley says the law would not require parents to register children for workers’ compensation or regulate how farmers operated their households.

The premier says it was a mistake not to include that information in the bill and her government will soon introduce an amendment to change that.

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Notley says she takes responsibility for the miscommunication.

“It was a mistake that our intentions and these limitations were not included in the text of the bill,” Notley wrote in the Facebook message posted Friday.

“Between what was explicitly stated and what was intended, fear and miscommunication has filled the gap. I take responsibility for that.”

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Notley’s letter follows a week of angry protests by farmers and their supporters, including rallies at the legislature. On Friday, protesters gathered in front of McDougall Centre, the government’s office in Calgary, and more unhappy farmers showed up at a public consultation meeting in Medicine Hat.

READ MORE: Anti-Bill 6 protesters return to Alberta legislature

The National Farmers Union issued a statement Friday in support of Bill 6.

“By requiring farms that have one or more paid employees to carry workers’ compensation, the new law will ensure that both farmers and farm workers are protected,” it said.

“Farmers will not be vulnerable to lawsuits if a worker is injured on their farm.”

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The legislation calls for injury compensation benefits and occupational health and safety rules for 60,000 farm and ranch workers across Alberta.

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It also introduces workplace standards on commercial aspects of farming as well as the right for workers to bargain collectively.

Watch below: Farmers protest legislature to kill farm safety Bill 6 on Dec. 3. Global’s Tom Vernon reports.

Farmers and some opposition leaders have argued the bill is trying to do too much too fast, threatens the viability of family farms and could rip apart the cultural fabric of rural life.

They are asking Notley to pull it pending further consultation.

READ MORE: Province holding information sessions across Alberta on controversial Bill 6