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CHAMBER AGRICULTURE PRIORITIES REFLECTED IN LEGISLATION

CHAMBER AGRICULTURE PRIORITIES REFLECTED IN LEGISLATION

The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce was pleased to see the adoption of the Bill 26, the Farm and Freedom Safety Act, on December 5, 2019, following their advocacy efforts since 2016 asking for common sense legislation that considers the unique nature of farms and ranches.
 
‘When bringing in changes that will require businesses to adjust and invest time and resources to administer it is essential for government to involve stakeholders and allow for time to absorb and adjust to required changes,’ commented Tracy Noullett, President of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. ‘The Chamber commends the government for engaging and consulting with the agricultural community and using feedback to inform their legislation.’
 
Through policy recommendations, the chamber network identified how specifically mandating coverage from the Workers’ Compensation Board for all paid workers created challenges that did not consider the time needed to adjust operational structures to implement this measure and asked for consultation on how best to balance unique economic pressures of farming with a need for a common sense, flexible, farm safety regime. In addition, they recommended that employers have the right to choose between WCB and private insurance, as long as it meets minimum standards established.
 
Under the new legislation farms and ranches will have choice when it comes to workplace insurance, while still ensuring basic safety standards on all farms. It also recognizes that agriculture is unlike other businesses, and that farmers and ranchers require flexibility in meeting labour and employment standards. It also reinstates the farm and ranch sector exemption from the Labour Relations Code, while minimizing red tape and reducing regulatory burdens on farmers and ranchers.
 
‘Farms and ranching operations are an essential part of the economy not only in our region, but the entire province,’ stated Tracy Noullett, President of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. ‘As an organization we are committed to stimulating a strengthened and vibrant economy in our region. With our agricultural sector being a significant economic driver, ensuring their ability to operate successfully benefits our entire region.’
 
The changes made will come into effect on January 31, 2020.
 
Agriculture Statistics:
  • There are 3,163 farms in the Palliser region.
  • In 2017, the real GDP for Alberta’s agri-food industries in (2007) dollars totaled a record $6.5 billion, 4.9 per cent higher than in 2016 and was the second consecutive year-over-year increase. Of this total, primary agriculture accounted for $3.5 billion (up 1.9 per cent).
  • Total employment in agrifood industries was 75,100 persons (up 2.6 per cent from 2016), with 52,100 employed in primary agriculture (up 2.6 per cent) and 23,000 in food and beverage manufacturing industries (up 2.7 per cent). Combined, these industries accounted for 3.3 per cent of the total employed provincial labour force of 2,286,900 persons.
  • Exporting to nearly 140 countries, Alberta’s total international exports of primary and processed agricultural and food products (agri-food) surpassed $11 billion for the first time to $11.2 billion, up 12.3 per cent, from 2016.
 
Please direct all media inquiries to:
Tracy Noullett, 2019-2020 President
Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce
(403) 527-5214 ext.225

 
The Chamber of Commerce is a member-driven, volunteer-led organization, proudly representing the interests of businesses in our region, and working diligently to stimulate a strengthened and vibrant economy through our connections, support and influence. For more than 115 years, the Chamber has stood for promoting business, monitoring government and championing managed growth in the local economy. The Chamber represents over 800 businesses in our region and is aligned with both the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), which represents over 25,000 businesses and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce (CCC), which represents over 200,000 businesses. With the largest and most influential business organizations locally, provincially and federally, the Chamber network is the most unified, valued and influential business network in Canada and works together to shape policy and programs that will make a difference to businesses in our region.
 

 
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