Farmers and ranchers discuss life post-Bill 6 at Coaldale town hall

LETHBRIDGE – It was a message that resonated loud and clear: the fight against Bill 6 isn’t over.

Wildrose MLAs David Schneider (Little Bow), Grant Hunter (Cardston-Taber-Warner) and Pat Steer (Livingstone-Macleod) hosted a town hall meeting in Coaldale on Tuesday evening to discus the implementation of Bill 6.

A group of around 60 farmers and ranchers gathered at the Gem of the West Museum to listen to the MLAs and ask questions about how the new Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act would affect them.

Although the bill will become law on Jan. 1, ranchers like Jean Minchau say they will continue to voice their opposition.

“There’s not a lot we can do now that the bill has passed. However, we can be in control of some of the regulations that they make with it,” Minchau said .

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Even with the meeting and a recent information session hosted by the Workers Compensation Board, farmer Heather Logan said she still had many questions.

“Are my children still exempt and am I still a family farm where my kids may come to work with me?” asked Logan.  “Or, am I now a unionized workplace that can restrict who can be in that work place?”

The NDP announced amendments to Bill 6 aimed at farm and ranch owners and their familiesThe amendments explicitly exclude owners of farming or ranching operations, and their family members, from the mandatory application of WCB and OHS rules.

Still, those exemptions have not been enough to quell anti-Bill 6 protests. Even with the Legislature done for the fall session, hundreds of farmers and ranchers protested outside the provincial capital building again on Tuesday.

Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter said it’s important for farmers and ranchers to keep pressing the government on the issue, all the way until the next provincial election in 2019.

“If you don’t forget and you mobilize when you need to, which is at an election time…the farmers and ranchers can be a very powerful force to be reckoned with,” said Hunter.

It’s a sentiment Minchau echoed.

“If everybody stops right now, saying ‘okay the bill has passed, we can’t do any more,’ that’s where it’s going to stop. [The government] can do whatever they want,” said Minchau.

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