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FFAW Speaks with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Fitzgerald

April 15, 2020

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, made time to speak with FFAW-Unifor this evening to discuss concerns regarding safety in the fishing industry in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the call were Tracy King- DM DFLR, Colleen Simms – ADM Population Health, Justin Garrett – Treasury Board, Keith Sullivan, David Decker, Greg Pretty, Jessica McCormick – FFAW-Unifor, and Brenda Greenslade – NL-FHSA.

Dr. Fitzgerald was given an overview of the concerns that Fish Harvesters and Plant Workers have regarding COVID-19.  Brenda Greenslade walked Dr. Fitzgerald through the draft safe work practices for fish harvesters. There was very good discussion with Dr. Fitzgerald. Rather than release the document to harvesters tomorrow as planned, Dr. Fitzgerald will be thoroughly reviewing the document and will provide comments to us in the coming days. Once these comments from Dr. Fitzgerald are incorporated, we will finalize the document and distribute to all harvesters. Up to this point, over 45 fish harvesters, including the Inshore Council as well as the NL-FHSA Board of Directors, the Occupational Health and Safety Division, Service NL, Transport Canada, WorkplaceNL and the fishery safety sector associations across the country have provided feedback on the safe work practices document.

FFAW-Unifor also raised issues around processing plants and the health and safety concerns facing plant workers. Dr. Fitzgerald noted that glass partitions, if able to be implemented in processing facilities, are a good barrier to keep people safe in addition to other safe work precautions.

The Inshore Council will be holding a meeting later this week to discuss potential openings or further postponements of the fishery. An update will be provided after this meeting.