By Jackie Clark
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) announced a nearly $1.4 million investment in the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) on March 15, kicking off Canadian Agricultural Safety Week.
“There are significant and serious risks to farm work that we often don’t think about,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of AAFC, said in the March 15 press conference. “Farms aren’t only workplaces, but family homes and play yards for children. The dangers are mental as well as physical. Work and hours can be exhausting and sometimes very stressful and lonely.”
The difficult work of farming and increased focus on health and safety over the last year underscores the importance of CASA’s work.
The efforts of the organization “go a long way in preventing injury and saving lives,” Bibeau said. The federal investment will “support further this great work and help protect farmers and farm families through safety awareness year-round (by supporting) activities under phase two of CASA’s Farm Safe Canada initiative.”
Those “activities include greater outreach and awareness for farmers and their families through e-newsletters, social media, and school events. Funds will support information for firefighters and other first responders because we know that minutes save lives. CASA will also use the funds to provide input into safety standards on new farm equipment and safety assessments to help temporary foreign and seasonal workers stay safe,” Bibeau explained.
AAFC and CASA share a vision of a future where no one is hurt on farms, she added.
“It’s funding like this that allows us to bring this national public awareness campaign to fruition each year,” Caroline Van Den Heuvel, chair of CASA’s board of directors, said at the press conference. “This year, our campaign theme is Lead an AgSafe Canada which is part of a three year campaign of safe and strong farms.”
The work that CASA does on this campaign is supported by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, as well as Farm Credit Canada, CN, Syngenta and TC Energy.
“It’s this support that has allowed us to launch new initiatives (such as) the BeGrainSafe program,” she Van Den Heuvel explained. “We’re able to study trends in agriculture related to fatalities and injury, raise awareness through public awareness campaigns, support education for children and youth on farms and support the leadership in farm health and safety across Canada.”
CASA will use the funding to continue existing campaigns, expand new programs, investigate statistics in farm accidents to target investment to continue to reduce fatalities, and foster collaboration across provincial and regional farm safety organizations, she added.
“We want to work together to expand the resources that are available to our partners, and in turn, to our farm communities.,” she said. “We want to equip our producers, our families and our workers with the information and tools that they need to make farms a safe place to live, work and play.”