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Alberta PCs knew farm worker insurance was needed: report

Bill 6 protest
About 20 vehicles parked alongside Alberta's Highway 2 on Nov. 30, 2015 to protest Bill 6. Craig Hooper / Global News

A report commissioned by the previous Progressive Conservative government shows it was aware that Alberta farm workers needed workplace insurance protection.

The Sigma Risk Management report, obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour, was presented to the Tories in February 2015, three months before they were swept from power by the NDP.

The report says about 2,000 farm workers in Alberta suffer a lost-time accident each year and about 20 will die in workplace accidents.

It also notes that Workers Compensation Board coverage would be the cheapest insurance option for small and medium-size farms.

The AFL says its findings repudiate arguments against the farm safety changes that have been brought in by the NDP.

Watch below from Dec. 3, 2015: Farmers and ranchers from across Alberta protest at the legislature in an effort to kill the farm safety bill, which they say they were never consulted about. Tom Vernon reports.

Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney have both pledged to scrap the NDP legislation known as Bill 6 if they win the next provincial election.

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“This utterly repudiates the arguments against basic workplace protections for agricultural employees,” federation president Gil McGowan said Tuesday in a release.

“Anyone who reads this report and still says that Alberta doesn’t need common-sense agricultural workplace laws has no heart.”

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Mandatory rules that require WCB coverage for paid farm workers in Alberta have been in effect since January 2016.

The rules don’t apply to farm owners or their family members.

READ MORE: Alberta farm worker WCB claims more than double since Bill 6

Regulations to cover workplace issues such as overtime, hours of work, collective bargaining, safety education and health rules are being studied by farm, labour and other groups.

The government has said once these groups make their recommendations, the government will give Albertans a chance to respond to draft regulations.