Agriculture Exemption

Res #: 37-02A
Number: 37
Year: 2002
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Labour

Resolution 37-02A 

WHEREAS, raising hogs has traditionally been considered primary agriculture; and

WHEREAS, primary agriculture has always been exempt from The Labour Standards Act; and

WHEREAS, all other provinces exempt primary agriculture from all or significant parts of their respective employment standards legislation; and

WHEREAS, labour standards regulations on primary agriculture operations would give Saskatchewan an economic disadvantage compared to other provinces;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby the Provincial Government for agriculture to remain exempt from The Labour Standards Act.

Response From the Honourable Chris Axworthy, Q.C., Minister of Justice

I have directed a copy of your letter to the Honourable Debra Higgins, Minister of Labour, who will provide a response respecting The Labour Standards Act.

Response From The Honourable Deb Higgins, Minister of Labour

On June 4, 2002, changes to The Labour Standards Act to extend coverage to commercial hog operations were introduced in the Legislature. The proposed changes define commercial hog operations as those facilities that: 1) are involved in the production of pigs, hogs or swine; 2) employ six or more full-time equivelant employees. Once the proposed amendments are passed in the Legislature, it is anticipated that they will take effect September 1, 2002. As you may know, the Act already applies to other agricultural activities such as egg hatcheries, greenhouses and nurseries, and bush cleaning operations.

Over the years, commercial hog production facilities have become technically sophisticated operations that require the use of complex equipment and increasing scientific expertise. Seasonality is not a factor for these operations because hogs are produced indoors in large buildings. The production cycle is strictly controlled and there is increasing automation of the production environment. It is only fair that employees working in these operations have the same level of rights and responsibilities as those employed in similar, highly technical operations. Our government recognizes that many operations already meet pr exceed the minimum labour standards provisions. However, amending the Act and Regulations to include them will help ensure that the province's minimum employment standards are applied consistently from one operation to the next.

In considering the issue, the government engaged in meaningful consultations with employers and employees to determine how best to apply these changes to the commercial hog industry. Based on the feedback provided by these individuals and organizations, the Regulations concerning Hours of Work and Public Holidays will be tailored to recognize the unique conditions and circumstances of the commercial hog industry.

There is no evidence to suggest that these amendments will discourage further investment in the hog industry in Saskatchewan. During consultations, our researchers spoke with firms in Manitoba and Alberta about our proposals. They agreed that the application of the Act to commercial hog operations would require only minor adjustments for them and would be a minor factor in a future decision about investment in Saskatchewan.

There has been much speculation on the impact that these changes will have on the viability of the commercial hog sector. The proposed changes will not affect the numerous commercial hog operations that already meet or exceed the minimum labour standards provisions – they will affect only those that have not been meeting the minimum standards. The changes, however, will help to create a level playing field for employers and will help them attract and maintain workers. This, in turn, will contribute to growth and prosperity in the industry.

A thriving and successful hog industry is important for this province, in both the short and long-term. With all working towards this common goal, we will continue to meet the challenges of creating a viable, self-sufficient and sustainable industry.