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Canadian Seafarers Concerned Over Job and Safety Erosion with Filipino Deal

May 1, 2023

Earlier this spring, Transport Canada announced a new deal with the Philippines, permitting Filipino seafarers to work on Canadian-flagged vessel. The deal is alarming for Canadian seafarers who fear the move signals the rapid erosion of quality, at-sea jobs in favour of low-wage labour. FFAW-Unifor is concerned the federal government is attempting to lower marine safety standards or grandfather in substandard marine safety regimes.

“FFAW is mostly known as the fish harvester and plant worker Union, but we’ve got over 200 members who work in offshore jobs who are most affected by this decision by Transport Canada,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “Atlantic Canada has alarmingly high unemployment rates, and yet our Federal Government is looking at ways to make it harder for these Canadians to compete for jobs. And not just any job; a job that is on their doorstep and provides a meaningful livelihood in a skilled industry,” Pretty says.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s unemployment rate reached nearly 12% earlier this year, and other maritime provinces are not far behind. The federal government should be looking at ways to ensure Canadians are not being taken advantage of by corporations, and to protect good quality, unionized jobs.

“Our Union is asking the federal government what safeguards they have put in place to ensure companies won’t replace entire offshore fleets with low-wage workers at the expense of Canadian jobs and safety standards?” asks Pretty.

“Companies will always be after increasing the bottom dollar, even if it means sacrificing the livelihoods of thousands of Canadians along the way. It’s our government’s role to ensure Canadians are put first, and that jobs and standards of safety are protected,” Pretty concludes.