A locally elected member of the House of Commons in Ottawa has been hearing a lot about Bill 6 lately, and it’s been feedback from local voters.
Mike Lake, Conservative Party MP for Edmonton-Wetaskiwin, said he’s received a number of calls to his riding office in Edmonton regarding the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, despite the fact he’s a federally elected representative, and Bill 6, as it is known, is provincial in nature.
Lake said, in a phone interview Jan. 6, he received more calls to his office on Bill 6 than he did on federally related issues. “Obviously, it falls more under provincial jurisdiction,” said Lake.
The MP stated the lack of meaningful consultation undertaken by Alberta’s NDP government on the farm worker changes had something to do with the intense response form the farm community. “I think that definitely caused the uproar that you saw,” said Lake. “There’s no question…the consultation was just not done and I think the government has admitted that.”
Lake said it seemed local voters who were contacting his office seemed to be looking for someone to listen to their concerns and in essence have a chance to vent. “It’s frustrating to them when they feel there’s nowhere to turn,” said the MP.
“(Government didn’t seem to listen)…despite the reasonable concerns the constituents had.”
He added that it’s probably a good lesson to elected officials to include consultation processes when introducing controversial legislation.
Bill introduces a number of organized labour type changes, including, according to the provincial government website, “workers will be able to refuse unsafe work that presents an imminent danger and Occupational Health and Safety will be able to investigate serious injuries and fatalities.”
The law was already passed by the NDP majority in the legislature last month, but the provincial government notes, “Employment Standards and Labour Relations codes will be developed after consultations with industry.”
Protests occurred around the province, including at the legislature in Edmonton, involving thousands of farm families and their supporters against a bill which opponents claim is red tape that will harm Alberta’s farm community. Critics also claim the NDP government did little consultation for a bill that would have big ramifications for farmers.