Alberta’s newly implemented Bill 6 introduced some significant changes to the province’s farm labour landscape. If you’re the proprietor of a commercial venture in the agriculture industry, it’s essential that you perform a thorough insurance review to make sure you have the proper coverage.
While Bill 6 proved to be contentious, Alberta lawmakers called it an essential step in guaranteeing farm workers with the essential protections they need to be safe on the job. Few would argue that the bill’s underlying principles are honourable and have the right intentions, but farm owners and workers nevertheless called for reforms to the legislation. There were some adjustments made, the bill passed and is now provincial law. It’s very important understand what Bill 6 is all about and how it might impact your Alberta farm insurance.
What Is Bill 6, and Why Was It So Hotly Contested?
If you’re unfamiliar with Bill 6, here is an overview of the new law:
- The bill only affects ranching and farming activities that involve paid workers who are not related to the owner. There are no stipulations for recreational activities that take place on farmland, such as hunting. Family farms are also exempted.
- Bill 6 requires that farm workers falling under the provisions of the bill be covered under the province’s Workers Compensation Board (WCB). Employers have until April 30, 2016 to register their operations with the WCB. It is the responsibility of the employers of paid farm workers to provide this insurance coverage.
- Basic Operational Health and Safety (OHS) standards will now apply to paid farm workers. This means that employers are now bound by law to take the necessary steps to ensure that reasonable safety standards are in place while giving workers recourse to refuse work deemed to be unsafe.
Detractors of the bill argued that existing Alberta farm insurance already protected paid workers, and opposition leaders and farming stakeholders urged the government to delay until further consultations could be completed. Despite their appeals, Bill 6 was passed in December of 2015 and enacted on January 1, 2016.
How Bill 6 Affects Farm Insurance Requirements
In debating and passing Bill 6, lawmakers argued that while a large number of the province’s commercial farms already had adequate insurance coverage for paid employees, many others did not. The mandate to provide workers with basic WCB insurance accounts introduced a common standard that did not previously exist within the province.
Farm owners who are carrying insurance for paid workers may already meet the requirements introduced by Bill 6, but those who do not have the necessary employee protections in place must conform to basic WCB coverage standards no later than April 30, 2016.
With the passage of Bill 6, farm owners throughout the province are reviewing their insurance coverage, and now is the ideal time to perform a thorough audit to make sure you have all the essential protections in place. In addition to bridging any gaps created by the newly implemented bill, farm owners should also take a careful look to make sure they have the right coverage for:
- Farm equipment and machinery
- All buildings located on the farm’s property
- Office equipment
- Agriculture products produced by the farm
- Liability and lost income resulting from unforeseen accidents, natural disasters or injuries
Questions about Your Alberta Farm Insurance?
The knowledgeable and understanding professionals at Lane’s Insurance are here to help you answer any questions you may have about the Bill 6 coverage requirements, and any other concerns you may have about your Alberta farm insurance. For personalized assistance, please contact a Lane’s Insurance customer service representative.