Last year 25 farm workers were killed on the job. When two workers were killed at the oil sands, there was an investigation, improvements in health and safety and a fine of over a million dollars. The difference is oil sands workers are included in Occupational Health and Safety Act. There were charges filed against the companies responsible for health and safety at the site. 25 farm workers deaths generated 0 dollars in fines, 0 investigations, and 0 charges. The difference is oil sands workers are included in Occupational Health and Safety Act and farm workers are not. In fact farm workers are also excluded from Employment Standards Legislation, the Labour Relations Code, and WCB coverage is not mandatory. If 25 firefighters were killed on the job would we do something? If 25 accountants were killed on the job would we do something? When 25 farmworkers are killed on the job we do nothing. They don’t count. I’d like to quote from farm worker statistics but there are no injury statistics kept.
Their deaths did not count. Their injuries do not count. They are excluded from official statistics.
When Kevan Chandler was killed it took his wife Lorna Chandler six years to receive compensation. She had to go through the courts to get the help that every other Albertan takes for granted. During those six years she had to raise her three children without her husband and work three jobs to make ends meet. Industry has completely failed these workers. There is no incentive or punishment system for farmers to improve health and safety conditions. This situation cannot continue; the previous government did nothing to help farm workers.
I have full confidence this government will do the right thing, the sooner the better.