November 2, 2023
Seasonal workers in Newfoundland and Labrador are facing an economic crisis and industry retention is in jeopardy without urgent help from the federal government. FFAW-Unifor is calling on government to step in with an emergency income supplement to address the drastic reduction in benefits this year to ensure over 30,000 affected seasonal workers can make it through the winter.
“Over two months ago, these workers were told by the federal government that help was coming. Here we are in November, and there is no sign of help yet,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “The result of changes to the federal EI system this fall, means fish harvesters, plant workers, and other seasonal workers will not only be without income for up to 8 weeks prior to the start of the next fishery, their monthly incomes will be reduced by up to $400 per month,” Pretty explains. “This is a crisis situation for the long-term sustainability of our coastal communities, and we need immediate action to keep these people from absolute poverty,” he warns.
FFAW-Unifor has suggested an income supplement in place of changes to Employment Insurance, to expedite assistance to those who require it. While a 5-week extension program exists for seasonal workers, the extension does not address the decrease in monthly income nor is it available to fish harvesters.“This is a workforce crisis for the fishing industry. Plants are already starved for workers, and we can’t believe these families will be able to hang around to next season living under the poverty line. People will find other work. They will leave their communities. And they won’t be back next spring,” concludes Pretty.
FFAW-Unifor asks members to continue calling their MPs and MHAs to impress upon them the urgency of this situation.
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