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Speaking up for safety on our farms

Monday March 11 2019 I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature about farm safety

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, this week farmers across Manitoba will mark this year's theme of Safe & Strong Farms for Canadian Agricultural Safety Week.

      This week is intended to emphasize the importance of working with farmers, their families, their employees and farm organizations to promote farm safety. Farmers are, of course, vital to our province, and not only do Manitoba farms and farmers feed our families, but they build economic strength and socioeconomic stability in our province.

      It's estimated that between–one in 10 jobs in Manitoba–more than 60,000–depend on direct or indirect spin-offs from agriculture. According to the Canadian agricultural injury reporting–report, in 2017 agriculture ranked fourth as the most hazardous industry in Canada with respect to rates of fatal injury. In terms of absolute numbers of fatalities, there was no more dangerous occupation.

      We need to emphasize safety. The concerns include physical safety in an occupation that uses a lot of heavy machinery. The concerns are about hazardous materials, including chemicals, in an industry which employs many chemicals. Concerns include brain and mental health in an industry where there's a lot of stress.

      These numbers, of course, staggering, and we need to all work together to improve safety on our farms and for our farmers.

      I commend the work that Farm Safety Manitoba is doing. They provide resources for farmers, including training and seminars, noise and gas checks, and farm safety consultations.

      On April the 8th, Manitoba Farm Safety will be hosting a stress management mental health and work-life balance seminar for farmers. I thank them for their continuing efforts in improving the lives of Manitoba farmers.

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