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COVID-19 Update - March 21, 2020

March 21, 2020

Update for Members

March 21, 2020

As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve day by day, we know that our members have significant concerns regarding your employment and the health of your families and your communities. We want all FFAW-Unifor members to know we are working around the clock to advocate on your behalf to federal and provincial governments to ensure there is adequate support in place for workers during this challenging and uncertain time.

Earlier this week, the federal government announced supports for Canadians impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, including new employment insurance benefits, a boosted Canada Childcare Benefit, a GST tax credit boost, emergency care benefits, as well as tax relief measures.

While these supports will help many workers, particularly those in the Industrial/Retail/Offshore sectors, we know that there is still uncertainty facing many in our province – particularly those receiving fishing benefits whose EI claims will soon expire. That is why we have also asked the federal government to provide emergency benefits to impacted fish harvesters at an increased rate. We also encourage enterprise owners to reach out to their lenders, if you have not already done so, to inquire about payment deferrals.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the seafood industry remains a critical part of our food supply both in Canada and abroad. We also know that many harvesters are hoping to start their fishing seasons on time. In consultation with FFAW’s Inshore Council, the decision has been made to continue with snow crab price negotiations beginning early next week.

We have been gathering market information and we understand this is a volatile time, however there are currently minimal amounts of snow crab in our main markets. As many can understand, some markets are not consuming much snow crab, or many other food categories, in the current global crisis. Despite this, as of now there appears to be opportunities to market snow crab at a good value. It is our responsibility to ensure we prepare to put our members in a position to take advantage of the most value in the market.

Precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of all involved, and although the extent of face to face discussions will be reduced, harvesters should rest assured that we will avail of technology to communicate with all crab fleet chairs during the negotiations process.

We will continue to provide regular updates to members regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on workplaces and the fishing industry. We know that the lack of face to face meetings will be a challenge for our members and we will continue to provide updates through email, our website and on social media for all upcoming price negotiations and fisheries information. We are working hard on your behalf and should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out — to your Staff Representative, your Inshore or IRO Council Rep, on social media, send us an email or give us a call at 709-576-7276.