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FFAW Request Meeting with Minister O'Regan to Discuss Deplorable EI Inadequacies

December 1, 2023

Today, December 1st, 2023, FFAW-Unifor issued a letter to federal Minister Seamus O’Regan requesting a meeting to include FFAW leadership, Executive Board, as well as members of the FFAW Inshore and Industrial-Retail-Offshore Councils. The discussion is intended for elected FFAW leadership to express the critical need for enhanced support to receive appropriate protections, especially for fish harvesters who are unable to avail on the extension of the pilot program announced in the November 21st Fall Economic Statement that will secure 4-additional weeks of benefits for seasonal workers that meet eligibility criteria.

While this measure does benefit some seasonal workers engaged in the fishery, it does not address the need for restoring monthly benefit amounts under the longstanding divisor of 14 for Economic Region 2, which is the core of the issue and would have supported both regular claimants and Fishing EI claimants. Federal government has demonstrated a will to assist, but have also demonstrated a disconnect in understanding the mechanics of Fishing EI as well as an awareness of the full scope of challenges faced by seasonal workers this year in Newfoundland and Labrador. The requested meeting will be an opportunity for key government officials to hear directly from elected FFAW representatives on the realities of the impacts to their households, their enterprises, and quality of life until the next working season begins. It will also serve to emphasize the looming workforce crisis as hundreds and potentially thousands will not be positioned to return to the fishing industry in 2024 without financial relief.

We continue to receive reports from owner-operators and crew who are being denied Fishing EI benefits as a direct result of the change in the regional unemployment rate at the time that they filed their claim. As evidenced in a copy of the Notice of Decision below, Fishing EI benefits are being denied because of shortcomings as low as $45 which the claimant would have otherwise secured before the unemployment rate changed at the end of the working season.

We are encouraging members who have received a similar Notice of Decision to notify their Staff Representative as soon as possible. 

Our letter to Minister Seamus O’Regan can read in entirety HERE