Aug. 28, 2012
Ministry of Labour, Citizens'
Services and Open Government
The facts on farm workers in B.C.
order to raise awareness about workplace rights and responsibilities, the
Ministry of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government will be releasing a
series of information bulletins and factsheets this week as Labour Day approaches.
This is the second in the series.
is committed to keeping British Columbia’s farm workers safe. In
- British Columbia's employment
standards and occupational health and safety regulations for agriculture
are comparable with other jurisdictions in Canada and are backed up by
some of the highest penalties in the country.
- B.C.’s labour laws and
workplace safety standards apply to all workers regardless of their
nationality or immigration status.
the Employments Standards Branch protects farm workers
- The Employment Standards Branch
Agriculture Compliance Team visits farms to ensure farm owners, producers
and Farm Labour Contractors (FLCs) are complying with provincial
employment standards legislation. If employers are found in contravention
of the act, mandatory escalating penalties apply.
- During these visits, which take
place over the course of the harvesting season, workers are interviewed
and given information about Employment Standards. In 2011 alone, Employment
Standards representatives spoke directly with approximately 2,900
agricultural workers and performed 74 site visits.
worker safety in B.C.
- WorkSafeBC farm inspection
reports have more than doubled in the last decade– from 370 reports in
2000 to 954 reports in 2011.
injury rate* in agriculture has dropped from 3.6 in 2002 to a rate of 2.3 in
2011. That’s on par with the province’s overall injury rate of 2.36.
*number of injuries per 100 person years of
to 2007 van crash in Abbotsford
- In 2007, the B.C. government created
the Inter-Agency Agriculture Compliance Committee to ensure an integrated
approach to farm worker safety. Find out more at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/farmworkers/
- In 2008, tougher provisions
were enacted under the Employment Standards Act to help ensure farm worker
safety. This legislation:
growers from using unlicensed farm labour contractors.
for the cancellation or suspension of a farm labour contractor’s licence
if they violate relevant WorkSafeBC and/or motor vehicle laws and
farm labour contractors liable for the costs paid by government to
provide safe alternative transportation for stranded workers when an
unsafe vehicle is taken out of service during roadside inspections.
- There were 17 recommendations
directed at government as a result of the coroners’ inquest into the 2007
Response to 2008 mushroom farm
incident in Langley
- Immediately following the 2008
mushroom farm tragedy, WorkSafeBC inspected every mushroom farm in the
province to make sure they were operating safely.
- Since the incident, the number
of agricultural inspection reports issued by WorkSafeBC has increased by
58 percent (605 reports in 2008, 954 in 2011).
- Following a coroner’s inquest
in May 2012, WorkSafeBC and the Farm and Ranch Health and Safety
Association (FARSHA) have begun working on implementing the jury’s
- A chart of responses to the coroner’s
recommendations is located at: http://www.worksafebc.com/news_room/features/2012/assets/pdf/InquestRecommendations.pdf
- Anyone with questions about
their rights or a complaint against their employer under the Employment
Standards Act can get help from the Employment Standards Branch. Help is
available in person, online or through a toll-free number (1 800 663-3316).
- The Employment Standards Branch
website has information about employee rights in English, French, Chinese,
Punjabi, Hindi, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Spanish.
- Since 2007, the Employment
Standards Branch has completed more than 70 guest appearances on Punjabi,
Mandarin, Cantonese and English-speaking radio and television programs to
answer questions about employment standards and employee rights.
- Employment Standards Branch
staff conduct education and outreach programs to inform immigrant workers
and employers about employment standards. This includes site visits to
workplaces, roadside vehicle inspections, education seminars and
presentations in schools and to groups of workers and employer associations,
networking through community agencies and contact with immigrant
- WorkSafeBC also offers a number
of health and safety publications in a wide variety of languages. In
addition, its call centre offers translation services in 170 languages.
- WorkSafeBC is using multiple
channels to reach members of B.C.’s two largest minority groups –
Chinese-Canadian and Indo-Canadian. This includes partnerships with
community organizations and regular appearances in the ethnic media.
of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government
with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect