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FFAW Continues to Push for Economic Support, Feds Unreceptive to Crisis

May 9, 2023

As all impacted seasonal fishery workers in NL head into the 4th week of a tie up as a result of an unviable price for snow crab, FFAW-Unifor has been working to engage several departments in federal government to outline the urgency for temporary income support for workers and financial assistance for enterprises.

Beginning on April 10th with correspondence to Minister Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, we requested a 10-week extension to current claims as well as changes to the eligibility criteria for 2023-24 claims. On April 14th, we launched an email campaign to engage all NL MPs as representatives of our province to bring these challenges with our proposed solutions to the House of Commons. Several follow-up meetings have taken place since this time, but no action has been taken by the federal government to help those in desperate need.

With more and more workers being cut from EI protections daily, the situation is quickly aggravated and becoming a concern for the health of members as well with many now unable to access necessary prescription medications. While application to the provincial drug plan was considered as an interim solution for access, that application process is based on CRA filings for 2022 making most applicants ineligible.

Other direct actions undertaken by FFAW to secure targeted assistance include:

  • Consultation with the Commissioner for Workers at the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC), Pierre Laliberte
  • Correspondence to William MacGillivray and Ray Walsh of DFO
  • Outreach to MP Churence Rogers’ office in his capacity of Chair as the NL Liberal Caucus
  • Request made to Adam Burns and Mark Waddell of DFO to discuss necessary supports possible through DFO
  • Briefing to Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Joyce Murray, to discuss logistics and feasibility possible through DFO in coordination with other federal departments to expedite an extension of emergency benefits

A virtual meeting took place May 8th with Mike Kelloway and FFAW leadership to emphasize that any economic support would be by necessity, focusing on temporary income support for impacted seasonal workers (onshore processing workers; vessel crew; dockside monitors) and financial assistance for enterprises. An Emergency Support Proposal is being prepared that will identify areas where financial assistance may be possible through DFO in coordination with other federal departments, likely Employment and Social Development Canada, to help the industry in NL bridge the current disruption in the form of application for a relief subsidy.

A meeting with the federal NL Liberal Caucus is scheduled for this evening at 8:30pm to provide a full update to NL Liberal MPs on the scope of challenges members are facing with thousands now entirely unprotected and economic losses to our province and Canada continuing into uncertainty.

Members continually note the lack of direct attention and commitment from all levels of government on this issue since concerns began to be expressed loudly in early April. Make no mistake, the issues impacting our membership will be felt in every community and sector of Newfoundland and Labrador.

At the time of writing, our email campaign has sent over 1,200 letters to MPs to emphasize the level of crisis. Keep writing, and please add your own message to the template sharing your personal concerns: