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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 29, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 12 THE UTHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, May 29, 1973 Beet workers9 Si on sin TO RIC SWIIIART Hoi-aid Staff Writer Sei'sona! housing conditions for susar beet workers has given a shot in the arm and continued upgrading v.ork is expected during the next few years. Gil Evans cf Raymond, supervisor for a four-man crew worked 85 days this spring upgrading hous- ins; conditions, said beet grower response to the pro- gram showed him that "far- aren't trying to put any- thing on native work- er Through the program, far- mers could make application for the use of the manpower nf the work crew. The farm- ers provided the materials for improvements and reno- vations to houses while the government paid the salar- ies for the crew and super- riscr. Outstripped said advertis- ing about the program was kept to a minimum because thj applications were out- stripping the capabilities of trs Through the program this year. 27 farmers paid for materials to upgrade 47 houses. Government partici- pation amounted to The native workers hired for the work were skilled carpenters with previous ex- perience a: Kainai Industries. a 'bciioing on the Blosd Indian Reserve. Mr. Evans questioned the upgrading program from the beet worker angle. He said complaints are never receiv- ed from the workers, just from people who never work in the beet fields or live in the houses. He said the fact that farm- ers are improving housing conditions will improve the puobc relations between far- mere and the public. warranted He said in past years the public outcry hasn't been warranted. In many cases, native workers who were no responsibility to any farmer, v.'ould rnoxe into abandoned houses and buildings just to get some semblence of a roof er their heads. Often the farmer wouldn' even know they were living on his land. And adding to the poor im- age cf housing conditions are literally hundreds of old houses which haven't been used for years which, are spread all over the sugar beet growing region. Mr. Evans said part of the program this was to tear down as many of these buildings as possible but time and manpower wasn't avail- able. Mrs. Frank Smith of Fin- castle, 35 miles east of Leth- bridge. who in Die pro- cess of cleaning up after the work crew finished reno- a house on her laud, said she liked the work done by the native workers. Ao mansions Mrs. Smith explained the position of most farmers when she said the houses "are no mansions but then the workers only use them for about a month." Mr. Evans added that the workers dcn't pay for the use of the building and they have the right to stay rent-free for one month after the field work has been completed. Ke said the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers Association is concerned that the houses don't leak, are tight enough to heat easily and are built v.ell enough so they can be kept clean. "How clean they are kept is up to the worker." Inspection In 1972, 566 seasonal hous- ing units wen inspected. Of these, 450 were approved v.hile 110 weren't. The 118 reuses were rechecked and if changes hadn't been made, the farmer in question was refused the services of the Agricultural Manpower office in obtaining labor for the car. Mr. Evans said it is this of action that is being taken to stop the smear cam- paigns which have caused dif- ficulties for farmers. "FA en though the workers v.eren't complaining, some- thing had to he done to stop the public he said. "I don't think 50 per cent of the sugar beet growers would talk to the press. They are afraid "The biggest problem fac- ing the farmers because of the public outcry is thai gov- ernment backs off from as- sistance programs because of the public pressure." Seasons! housing RiC 5WIHART photos ;