My AgSafeBC Story

Dr Charan Gill M.A., M.S.W., O.B.C.


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“I have been involved with FARSHA, now AgSafeBC since day one. I feel greatly proud of its work and take great pleasure working with the organization. My time spent with FARSHA/AgSafeBC has been delightful and the joint participation of both CFU, of which I am proud to be one of the founders, and FARSHA/AgSafeBC has been wonderful in my opinion.”

The Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA), now AgSafeBC, was born out of a farm worker social movement demanding safer working conditions.

The Canadian Farmworkers’ Union (CFU) was formed in 1978 to address the poor working conditions in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland agriculture industry. Cesar Chavez, a leader of the California farm workers movement, presided over a gathering of farm workers in New Westminster and declared a union of farm workers known as the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union.

With the help of the trade union movement, the CFU became a very powerful leader of a social movement which highlighted the third world working conditions which existed on Fraser Valley farms. The movement gathered popular support in the wider community, and it forced the government to do something to rectify the situation.

Following several deaths on Fraser Valley farms and roadways, due to the sub-standard vans and buses used to transport workers from the Lower Mainland to farms, a committee from the CFU and employers was established to find a solution to the problem.

Safety on farms was the major issue. Both employers and the workers had a common agenda to reduce accidents and to improve the safety of the workers. As a result of the committee’s recommendations the Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA) was established with a focus on safety for farm workers. Moe Sahota, the Labour Minister at the time, appointed Ralph McGinn from WorkSafeBC to draft FARSHA’s constitution with the help of CFU and employers representatives.

A majority of the decisions by FARSHA were, and still are, made by consensus and have enormously reduced accidents and helped to improve the safety of the workers. FARSHA was the first of its kind to be established with joint effort of workers and employers. It became very popular as a health and safety association model and several industries have followed suit. It not only helped the workers, but also helped employers to reduce their levy.

I have been involved with FARSHA, now AgSafe since day one. I feel greatly proud of its work and take great pleasure working with the organization. My time spent with FARSHA/AgSafe has been delightful and the joint participation of both CFU, of which I am proud to be one of the founders, and FARSHA/AgSafe has been wonderful in my opinion.