Today (Wednesday, May 22), after receiving final written confirmation from fish plant owners, communities and worker representatives, the Ministerial Fisheries Committee noted the permanent closures of fish plants in Black Tickle, Jackson’s Arm, Little Bay Islands, Marystown, Port Union, St. Bride’s and St. Lewis. This designation follows official requests from the communities affected and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union that the plants be deemed as permanently closed so individuals can receive assistance, per Provincial Government policy.
“When fish plants close, due to economic factors or resource availability, communities are understandably thrust into a state of disbelief and uncertainty,” said the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Chair of the Ministerial Committee. “Our government’s role is to support displaced workers as they bridge to new employment and seize new opportunities that may arise. Our committee continues to work diligently with all those affected, including workers, communities, worker representatives and area MHAs to bring about positive change and to address short-term employment needs.”
The Ministerial Fisheries Committeeconsists of the following members of Cabinet:
· Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture;
· Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills;
· Honourable Kevin O’Brien, Minister of Municipal Affairs;
· Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Education; and,
· Honourable Keith Hutchings, Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development.
The committee recently met with representatives from affected communities, as well as those with pending plant closures. The meetings took place on Wednesday, May 16, with the Town of Marystown, the Town of Burin, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers’ Union local committees from Marystown and Burin, as well as a representative from the Schooner Regional Economic Development Board which represents the Burin Peninsula. Meetings with other communities and groups experiencing similar closures will take place in short order.
In the coming days, the Department of Municipal Affairs will present short-term employment opportunities under the Fish Plant Worker Employment Support Program. These opportunities will provide timely assistance to those whose employment insurance claims are about to expire. Further details regarding these opportunities will be forthcoming.
The overall suite of programs and services offered to displaced workers by the Provincial Government will help individuals find new employment, secure short-term insurable hours to qualify for employment insurance, and support to retrain or upgrade skills. Included in the measures will also be a coordinated effort by the Provincial Government and communities to foster economic development opportunities that will develop long-term sustainability for affected regions.
“Opportunities exist for displaced workers,” said Minister King. “Our government will help displaced workers transition during this difficult time. We will encourage economic development initiatives that may provide new jobs in regions where fish plants have closed. We will work with all stakeholders to help ensure a positive outcome from the unfortunate circumstances that have occurred in recent months.”
Displaced workers are encouraged to call toll-free 1-888-231-2882, or visit their local Career Work Centre, to begin the process of attaining supports. Career counsellors will work with individuals and help navigate the programs and services that best suit individual needs.
The Ministerial Fisheries Committeewill continue to meet with other groups affected by fish plant closures and will provide updates as they become available. Further updates will also be provided as the suite of programs and services are delivered.