Posted on Nov 28, 2019

UCP Farm Bill Removes Minimum Wage and Insurance For Farm Workers

Jason Kenney and the UCP are repealing the right for farm workers to earn at least minimum wage, leaving a loophole that could lead to worker exploitation, said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

Bill 26, introduced on November 20, 2019, includes a new clause that allows farms with five or fewer workers to be exempt from all employment standards, including the minimum wage.

“This isn’t just reversing Bill 6, this is reversing hundreds of years of basic labour and human rights advances by removing core protections for workers,” said Notley. “We know the vast majority of Alberta farmers care for their workers and pay more than the law allows, but not all. Jason Kenney should explain why he believes it’s OK for some farm workers to be paid as little as $2 or $3 an hour, or even nothing.”

The clause in Bill 6 that originally exempted family members from the application of employment standards is now expanded in Bill 26. The expanded clause on Pages 5 and 6 of the bill adds “employees who are employed in a farming or ranching operation referred to in subsection (4), or to their employer while acting in the capacity of employer of those employees, if the operation employs 5 or fewer employees…

“No other jurisdiction in North America exempts any class of workers from earning at least some type of minimum wage for their work,” said Notley. “Jason Kenney is more than undoing Bill 6, he’s taking Alberta back to pre-industrial revolution labour laws.”

The Alberta NDP Caucus plans to amend the legislation when it reaches Committee of the Whole.