Why farms should never fall under Alberta Health and Safety regulations

The far-left Notley NDP government wants to increase onerous regulations on farmers, because why on earth should any productive sector of the economy be allowed to flourish without being held back by intrusive government legislation?

The reality of the farm life, something that hat-screwup Rachel Arab knows nothing about, is that most "workers" on farms around Alberta aren't strictly speaking "employees". They tend to fall into two categories: family members and neighbours.

It will shock these extremists in the NDP caucus, but in rural areas of Alberta there are still actual communities where farmers get together and help each other out, or do "you scratch your back and I'll scratch yours" arrangements to facilitate the time-sensitive nature of farm work.

So if I agree to help my neighbour harvest his sileage and in return he agrees hook me up with his second cut hay since mine turned out to be garbage, am I now his "employee"? Is he now legally required to put WHMIS labels on hazardous products in his machine shed even though I have absolutely no reason to be there? Or will neighbours "working" for each other in return for goods or services (ie., he comes and "works" for me the week after) be excluded from the law?

How about family members? Almost every farm kid in the province (I know a couple wussy exceptions) grew up learning to do chores. Doing chores is part of the ritual of growing up in rural Alberta. You aren't helping Mom dry dishes, you're helping her herd cattle into a smaller pen so that they can get Ivomec'd. As you get older you get more and more responsibility, from feeding animals to driving medium sized implements to driving large implements. Graduating from the baler to the bale wagon is one of the best parts about growing up in Alberta.

And let's not even get into running the combine.

So under the NDP legislation will farm kids have to help in hazard assessments, answer questions from COR auditors, and first be vetted with permits? The NDP think this is a good thing, believe it or not. Now you might be scoffing because of "factory farms" or "migrant workers" or all that jazz, but note that the NDP aren't talking about legislating those aspects of agriculture specifically: they're talking about putting the full OHS bureaucracy in effect on farms and ranches around the province. You might think these two sub-groups are already exempt, but you're wrong.

Although the term is not defined in the OHS Code, the term is used throughout the OHS Code and should be understood. Subsection 1(bb) of the OHS Act defines a worker as a person engaged in an occupation. The broad definition is intended to ensure that all persons engaged in hazardous work activities are protected under the OHS Act. It is not necessary for the worker to be paid and therefore volunteers and other unpaid persons are considered to be workers.
The term “occupation” is then defined in the OHS Act as: every occupation, employment, business, calling or pursuit
So yes, there you have it: now family farms and the communities they are in fall under onerous provincial legislation, including volunteers and family members. And yes, onerous legislation, as now is a good time to look at this "handy tool" for small businesses, and see exactly what the Alberta NDP want family farms to have to do in order to have their wife or kids involved in the operation. Warning: it's a .pdf, it's locked so I can't copy-paste, and it's not pretty.

Under the Alberta NDP proposal, government agents can at any hour enter a family farm, demand medical information about minor children, seize farm equipment and documents, take photos of private land, and ask children about parents business practices

The Alberta NDP would require that farmers determine across their land what might constitute a hazard and then involve their children in documenting the methods by which they have done so

Alberta NDP would pass legislation requiring farmers to notify the government every time there is a fire, farm injury, mechanical issue, or if any old barns or sheds start to collapse. Alberta farms have a lot of old barns and sheds. Huge numbers of family farms are at risk from this aspect of the OHS legislation alone

If the Alberta NDP get their way, farmers will need to spend time training friends and neighbours and family with the operation of farm equipment -- even if the people have been farming all their lives -- and also provide written documentation about the training and who has been trained when. This also requires farmers to start following the silly manufacturer instructions prohibiting, say, their child being in the tractor cab learning how to operate it, or allowing a child under 16 to operate an ATV

Under the Alberta NDP plan, farmers would be required to record every single first aid incident which occurs on the farm -- be it themselves, children, or neighbours helping out -- and the cause. These are more records which The State has the authority to come in at any time and examine

Oh and by the way...
A person with custody of first aid records must ensure that access to the first aid records is limited to the worker unless the person is allowed to release the information under privacy and access to information laws passed by the province of Alberta or the Government of Canada. Such privacy and access to information laws may authorize or require the disclosure of information such as first aid records.
Section 8 of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act allows access to first aid records by occupational health and safety officers and the Director of Medical Services, Alberta Employment and Immigration.

Other legislation such as the Workers’ Compensation Act, the Health Information Act (HIA), the Personal Information Act (PIPA) and Canada’s Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act may also have provisions authorizing access, use and disclosure of personal information.
A worker can allow his or her first aid record to be made available to other persons but permission must be in writing indicating the information that can be released, the name of the person to whom the information is to be released, the date and the worker’s signature.
Employers that conduct incident investigations need to know the name of the worker, the date of the accident or incident, the date the accident or incident was reported and when first aid was given. Details of the injuries and first aid should be limited.
Persons with access to first aid records must keep the information confidential except when disclosing the information listed in section 8 of the OHS Act.
Posting first aid records with the information contained in subsection 183(2) on notice boards or distributing them throughout the company is not allowed. General information that does not identify workers or contain any specifics can be distributed to workers and other work sites to increase safety awareness. An employer must provide the worker with a copy of their first aid record upon request.

The Alberta NDP will require farms to stock specific first aid kits, blankets, etc. based on where they are located

The Alberta NDP will require family farms to develop a policy to deal with violence between family members. How much do you want to bet that workplace violence will include corporal punishment for kids who, say, leave the gate to the horse pen open?

The Alberta NDP will require family farms to develop written procedures for all sorts of emergency events that may occur, provide training, and of course consult children and family friends in the development. Emergency facilities will need to be installed and identified, and specific written procedures for evacuation, no matter how unlikely or silly the event may be.

This is when you might be noticing that the health and safety rules are themselves too Big Government, too intrusive, too regulatory and the antithesis of liberty. You're right, by the way, and the problem isn't that the the family farm isn't forced to live under the shitty nanny-state health and safety rules as everybody else, but that everybody else shouldn't have to deal with this stupid regulatory nightmare either.

Look, I think at this point even the dullest of you should notice that only somebody dumb enough to support the Alberta NDP can possibly support extending provincial labour standards to the family farm. It's a different type of business. The closest parallel really would be a family restaurant. They also have a tendency of using family members as employees, particularly if the family is Middle Eastern. I know a few donair shops in Edmonton that have used their kids as workers, even serving us drinks at 2:45am (long after they've papered the windows over so we could continue being customers long into the night). Technically they also fall under workplace safety laws, and I'm sure the crackdown on their successful business model will come along soon enough as well. If you've got a way to make money and have happy clientele, Rachel Arab's big intrusive government is here to bat you down.

When I put this question to Twitter, Sheila Reid pointed out that adolescents and young persons have their own set of additional restrictions. Sheila's concern -- that children under 14 were working with machinery -- was is highlighted by the list of "approved jobs" for adolescents.

The Alberta NDP would require farmers to submit their children's workload to government bureaucrats for investigation and approval

Furthermore, the employment cannot "likely be harmful to" the child's education or welfare. Again, government bureaucrats will be entering family homes to make this determination. As Sheila noted, these bureaucrats almost always reject any permits for:
  • Jobs in the construction industry
  • Jobs requiring heavy lifting
  • Jobs working with or near moving vehicles and equipment (including forklifts), and
  • Jobs working with potentially hazardous equipment, such as pneumatic drills,
    conveyors for bulk materials, hand grinders, welding equipment, hammers,
    blowtorches, deep fryers, grills, slicers, or sharp knives, etc.
That's basically every single job on the farm. Picture that. In the NDP world, a government agent can come to your house and say that your farm kid isn't allowed to work with or near tractors or other farm implements. This would absolutely cripple every single family farm in the province, now forced to hire expensive ($15 minimum wage!) workers.
Adolescents may not work:
  • More than two hours on a school day
  • More than eight hours on a non-school day
  • Between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Additionally, children under 18 working on their family farm would be required to work in the continuous presence of an adult. In other words, no sense having them there at all. Which is why this mini-essay from Catherine McMillan at Small Dead Animals is so poignant.
My dad and Grandpa would fill the rough burlap bags with grain until the scale indicated the correct weight had been reached, shake them down until there was enough material available to stitch them closed, and plop them in front of me. It was my job to sew the bags, which I did by hand using an awl and hemp twine. I was also expected to help stack the 100 lb bags on their sides, in rows up to 5 high. I earned $40 the first summer sewing bags - at a nickel apiece. The next spring I was designated to milk a stoic, but unpredictable 1200 lb Shorthorn cow. The red beast that I and my pail danced with twice a day taught me about the sensitivity of chapped teats, the dangers of tight spaces and how to limp. I received her calf in payment. In my free time, I worked (unsupervised) with my bay Quarter horse yearling, breaking him to ride - a colt I'd helped purchase with the money I'd saved up from sewing bags. I was 12.
In addition to feeding cattle, roving fields for volunteer rye (at a penny a plant), picking bales and watching over the belt-driven grain cleaners housed in two separate buildings, my brothers and I drove tractor and cultivator on weekends and after school, earning a few bucks an hour. The money I earned helped fund private figure skating lessons. When I was 15, I turned in my CFSA "amateur" card for a professional designation and began coaching ("those who can, do...") - and when I was fully legal a few months later, travelled on rural winter roads to small towns up to an hour distant, where I taught lessons.
This is rural life. This is the life that the latte-sipping retards who run the Alberta NDP are either unaware of or (as increasingly looks likely) are actively and openly hostile to. Kate notes en passant that a world where farm kids are forced not to work is a world where they become lazier, more sedentary, and less self-reliant. This is, of course, the NDP paradise: a world where government has to swoop in to provide exercise programs, expensive government healthcare, school lunch programs, and welfare. They don't want the family farm, that right-wing engine of self-reliance and real morality, continuing to operate in their province. So they'll enact some "caring" legislation to bring family farms under the yolk of their intrusive controlling civil service and army of state enforcers. Once they succeed in this, they only need take over the private Christian schools and their extremist Marxist agenda can be fully realized.

Unless they are stopped. Farm kids around the province -- nay, around the country -- now is the time to speak out and stop the evil NDP before they get their way.