Town hall confab to discuss Bill 6

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December 3, 2015 1:57 PM

Many of the government consultation meetings for Alberta’s new and controversial Bill 6 have been filled to capacity, so a local MLA is holding his own gathering to give constituents a voice.
Richard Starke, PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, will be holding a public town hall meeting at the Vermilion Senior’s Centre on Dec. 5 for those affected by the bill.
“This was prompted by the difficulty people were having getting into the information sessions that are being hosted by the government on this issue,” Starke said.
Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, has many farmers in the province worried because of its lack of clarity regarding proposed regulations and the lack of industry consultation involved before its introduction.
Starke said the meeting is not a government information session, though a petition will be passed around and people are encouraged to bring letters to send to the Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.
It is hoped that the Alberta government will then take the concerns voiced in the letters into consideration before they make future amendments to the bill.
“I’ve talked to many farm families about this and people feel very strongly about the effect this will have on their way of life,” said Starke.
“They want to have a forum to talk about that and share those thoughts with elected officials, and as MLA I see that as one of my most important jobs, to make sure I offer people the opportunity to do that.”
The Alberta NDP put out a press release Nov. 27 trying to reassure those concerned, claiming the “flexibility to develop common-sense regulations” and promising farmers they will be able maintain their ways of life.
Starke, however, was not convinced, saying details from government were vague.
He doesn’t believe many farmers were reassured either as close to 1,500 people took to the steps of the Alberta legislature on Nov. 30 to protest the new legislation.
The government has since said it would amend the bill to make clear farm families would be exempt from laws designed to protect paid employees, however, there may still be unaddressed concerns for those affected by the bill.
The town hall meeting in Vermilion will be free of charge and those interested in attending do not need to register ahead of time.
The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and is expected to be wrapped up around noon.
“I’m certainly looking forward to hearing from constituents,” Starke said.

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