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Association will consider farm health

Rural municipalities, including Mountain View County, will consider a resolution at the upcoming spring convention of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta Association (RMA) regarding farmer mental health and the need to improve related services.
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Rural municipalities, including Mountain View County, will consider a resolution at the upcoming spring convention of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta Association (RMA) regarding farmer mental health and the need to improve related services.

Released last week for member consideration prior to the March 18-20 convention in Edmonton, the resolution calls on the provincial government to take action.

Specifically it calls for the province to “facilitate the formation of a free, year-round, all hours, mental health crisis hotline dedicated to the agriculture industry, providing farm families with direct access to uniquely qualified professionals and resources who have both an understanding of mental health issues and agriculture-specific stresses.”

The resolution, which was put forward by Lac Ste. Anne County, states that although Alberta does not currently have an agriculture-specific mental health crisis line, other provinces do.

“Despite mental illness diagnoses increasing, a large stigma exists around mental illness and asking for help which is especially prominent in industries like agriculture where members are isolated and have a distinct workplace culture of not requesting help.

“Agriculture is a stressful occupation, which has become especially clear with three consecutive years or poor harvest, livestock feed shortages and other effects of climate change.”

The background note accompanying the resolution states, in part, that, “women in agriculture face a high level of stress, depression, and fatigue, at reportedly higher levels than men. This is primarily due to role conflict and high workloads.

“Farm women are traditionally in charge of household tasks, childcare and running farm errands, but are increasingly required to undertake more on-farm and off-farm work. Often this is referred to as third shift – one shift on-farm, one shift off-farm and one shift as wife and mother.”

Another resolution coming before the upcoming RMA convention calls for support of the province’s oil and gas industry.

The resolution was put forward by Strathcona County. It reads, in part, as follows:

“That the provincial government develop and implement a targeted, national education and marketing campaign on behalf of Albertans in order to offset foreign protectionism and de-marketing campaigns, regulatory delays, and the combined infrastructure and economic factors that are creating a significant, negative effect on Canada’s local, provincial and national economies.”

The resolution also calls on the province to provide resources to support the continuation of the Petroleum Diversification Program, support key energy industry-related infrastructure development, and to support continued strong presence and advocacy with the federal, municipal and foreign governments.

If passed at the March convention, the resolutions would be used to lobby the provincial government for related action.

The background note with the resolution states, in part, that, “many Alberta families and businesses are suffering in lost jobs, income and property values due in part to the lack of market access for Alberta oil” and “Canada and Alberta’s energy industries lead the world in environmental responsibility and human rights and labour standards.”

Another resolution calls on the province to establish a program for financial assistance to municipalities to manage bridges affected by the premature deterioration of lightweight bridge girders.