Medicine Hat News: Farmworkers need help in Bill 6 transition period

The Alberta government has made and continues to make efforts to work with farm and ranch owners to adopt Bill 6. However, its implementation continues to be stalled by the legacy of a century of “wild west” attitudes, and no guarantee of safe work standards or compensation for injury.

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Jill Clayton’s re-appointment should prompt more action on transparency

Calgary, AB (February 2, 2017): Today Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann praised the recent re-appointment of Jill Clayton as Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Order in Council was issued on January 31st, appointing Ms. Clayton for a term lasting to 2022.

“As Commissioner, Ms. Clayton has been a champion of accountability and strong voice for public access to information,” said Swann. “I am glad to see the office remaining under her capable direction.”

With many government departments much delayed in their obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), Ms. Clayton has a big job ahead of her.

The Ministry of Justice, despite being specifically singled out by Ms. Clayton in the past, routinely fails to meet legally mandated deadlines. An example of this can be found in its reply to a recent Liberal FOIP request, in which they warned that, “due to a high volume of requests at this office,” their response time may exceed the 30 day requirement.

Swann is calling on the government to use Jill Clayton’s reappointment to reaffirm its commitment to openness and transparency. In particular, Service Alberta should restart the practice of posting FOIP statistics publicly, which it discontinued in 2013.

“I look forward to seeing the changes Ms. Clayton will effect – not only in the Ministry of Justice, but in the Government of Alberta as a whole,” said Swann.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann responds to CFIB’s Bill 6 Paperweight Award

Calgary, AB (January 30, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann argues the protections provided by Bill 6 outweigh the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s criticisms.

The CFIB recently awarded the bill a Paperweight Award for “outrageous regulatory headaches for small businesses,” arguing that the regulations were not written with the realities of farming in mind.

Swann replies that the protections provided to employers and workers by Bill 6 are paramount, and invites the CFIB to help ensure the bill’s smooth and effective implementation.

“Bill 6 benefits farmers as well as farm workers,” said Swann. “Workers’ Compensation offers no-fault coverage to employers, protecting them from liability in case of an accident. More importantly, Bill 6 gives basic legal protections to farm workers that have been lacking for almost a century.”

The CFIB sits on a technical working group consulting on the bill’s regulatory framework. Swann expects the organization to work to reduce difficulties for farmers, but to ultimately ensure workers continue to receive these vital protections.

“I encourage the CFIB to use its position on the government’s Technical Working Group to improve Bill 6’s implementation, creating a framework accessible to farmers and ranchers while still preserving the fundamental rights of their workers,” Swann concluded.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann calls for review of Alberta Human Rights Act

Calgary, AB (January 9, 2017):

In response to the recent Court of Queen’s Bench ruling adding age as a prohibited ground of discrimination, Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann called today for a review of the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“Friday’s ruling will have immediate benefits to a long-overlooked group of Albertans,” said Swann. “However, revisiting the Act to implement the ruling gives us an opportunity to extend leading edge human rights protections to further categories such as pregnancy, social condition, political belief and Aboriginal heritage.

“This government has so far taken a piecemeal approach to the Human Rights Act, which has not been substantially amended since 1996,” Swann continued. “Since that time, our understanding of human rights has evolved to include categories that would never have been considered twenty years ago. Simply put, there is clearly room to modernize and improve the Act, and now we have an excellent chance to do so.

“We have a duty to the vulnerable segments of our population to protect their fundamental human rights from abuse,” Swann concluded. “That protection should start with the Alberta Human Rights Act.”