The death of Kevan Chandler in a farm accident near Black Diamond, Alberta that left his wife, Lorna, and two young children in dire financial straits tragically illustrates the need for immediate government action to protect farmworkers.
"It is unforgivable for the Alberta government to continue to exclude farmworkers from basic employment standards and occupational health and safety (OH&S) regulations in the light of this tragedy," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "We need occupational health and safety regulations for farmworkers and mandatory WCB coverage for farmworkers," says McGowan. "The first may have prevented this tragedy and the second would have at least ensured that the widow and her children were financially secure."
Other provinces, like Ontario and Manitoba are already moving to correct this fundamental injustice with Ontario already covering farmworkers under health & safety regulations and Manitoba moving to include farmworkers under employment standards legislation. "It is past time for Alberta to stop treating farmworkers like second class citizens," says McGowan, "and to bring its legislation into the 21st century."
"August 20th is National Farmworkers Day," (click here for more on Farmworker Day) notes McGowan. "We don't want to be marking it every year with another memorial for farmworkers killed on the job. It's time for this government to act."
In an effort to provide some immediate assistance for Lorna Chandler and her two young children, the Alberta Federation of Labour has raised $3000 for her which will be presented at a fund-raiser in Turner Valley organized by the Farmworkers Union of Alberta on Sunday, August 20th at 12:00 noon.
Further support will be considered at the next AFL Executive Council meeting scheduled for October, 2006.
For more information on the AFL's End the Drought campaign for farmworkers, click here.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780-218-9888 (cell)