April 8, 2021 – The Liberal Government held the swearing-in ceremony for cabinet today in St. John’s. Among those sworn into Cabinet positions are Derrick Bragg as the incoming Minister for Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture, as well as Bernard Davis as the incoming Minister for the new cabinet position of Climate Change, Labour, and Workplace NL.
FFAW-Unifor is now calling on the Liberal Government to uphold commitments made during the Virtual Lobby Week in January. The re-election of Premier Andrew Furey with a Liberal majority government provides the opportunity for the provincial government to reset its priorities, with a call for stronger support to address the challenges facing the inshore fishery, and for all workers in this province, especially in a time of economic rebuilding.
During Virtual Lobby Week, FFAW questioned parties on their commitment to improving transparency in price negotiations, investing in young harvesters, and eliminating barriers to new entrants created by corporate concentration. More broadly, FFAW sought commitments to workplace safety by standardizing PPE equipment, as well as increasing minimum wage to generate economic growth, reduce inequality, and reduce healthcare costs. Even with the increase on April 1, 2021, Newfoundland’s minimum wage will still be among the lowest in the country at $12.50.
“We have lost time during an especially prolonged election campaign, and now it’s time for the Premier and Cabinet to deliver policies that will make a difference,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “This includes enacting legislation that supports federal owner/operator regulations, as well as addressing inequalities in provincial labour laws, including the failure to provide paid sick days to all workers, that have been exposed with the pandemic. We now ask that Minister Bragg and Minister Davis make this a priority going forward.”
Safety statistics in fish processing are alarmingly high, with lost-time and soft tissue incidence rates exceeding the provincial average by a significant margin, and with high rates of shellfish asthma.
“The inshore fishery, and the jobs created as spin-offs from the industry, have always been the driver of rural economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador, employing more people in rural communities than any other sector. Provincial government must show leadership and commitment to our inshore fishery and all workers in this critical time of rebuilding and restructuring,” concludes Sullivan.
Courtney Langille, Communications Officer