Lob­ster dis­carded due to lack of staff

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA -

• De­spite un­em­ploy­ment rates hov­er­ing near dou­ble- digit ter­ri­tory, some New Brunswick lob­ster plants were so short­staffed last year that thou­sands of kilo­grams of lob­ster had to be thrown out.

New Brunswick Fish­eries Min­is­ter Rick Doucet said Wed­nes­day he knows of one plant that had to dis­card about 1,360 kilo­grams of lob­ster be­cause they couldn’t find enough staff to process the crus­taceans.

“I’m see­ing com­pa­nies hav­ing to throw away prod­uct be­cause they just don’t have the man­power to process at peak times,” said Doucet.

“We have com­pa­nies that have been hold­ing back on ma­jor ex­pan­sion plans be­cause they don’t have the peo­ple to fill the spa­ces.”

He said it’ s also dis­ap­point­ing to see some com­pa­nies hav­ing to send lob­ster to neigh­bour­ing Maine to be pro­cessed.

New Brunswick has 44 ac­tive lob­ster pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties and had more than $ 700 mil­lion in ex­port sales of lob­ster last year, but some plants are al­ready ad­ver­tis­ing for work­ers. Pa­turel In­ter­na­tional on Deer Is­land, N. B ., cur­rently has a job list­ing seek­ing 85 peo­ple to be shell­fish labour­ers. The job pays $11.25 to $13.93 per hour, based on ex­pe­ri­ence and education.

But in spite of the prov­ince’s strug­gles with un­em­ploy­ment and re­ten­tion, Doucet said there are some jobs that Cana­di­ans won’t do.

He’s hop­ing the fed­eral govern­ment will make more peo­ple avail­able through the tem­po­rary for­eign worker pro­gram to avoid fu­ture lob­ster losses.

“It is a pro­gram that has worked ex­tremely well for the in­dus­try be­cause a lot of the time it is sea­sonal em­ploy­ment that is needed,” Doucet said.

Alex Fur­long, re­gional di­rec­tor of the Cana­dian Labour Congress, says in­dus­tries should step up their re­cruit­ing to get more Mar­itimers into those jobs.

“There are jobs that are avail­able and Mar­itimers cer­tainly could avail of those, so I think it’s in­cum­bent on any in­dus­try to ac­tively re­cruit those work­ers in a pro­gres­sive way with en­hanced wages and ben­e­fits,” Fur­long said, call­ing the tem­po­rary for­eign worker idea a tem­po­rary fix.

But Doucet ar­gues that many peo­ple still wouldn’t take the jobs even with an­other $5 or $10 an hour.

In Jan­uary, New Brunswick’s job­less rate was 9.3 per cent, while it was 8.5 per cent in Nova Sco­tia and 9.5 per cent in Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Dur­ing his re­cent state of the prov­ince ad­dress, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gal­lant noted that there were more than 2,800 jobs wait­ing to be filled in New Brunswick. He has stressed education as a means to pre­pare peo­ple for the avail­able jobs.

But Ian MacPher­son of the P. E. I. Fish­er­men’ s As­so­ci­a­tion says fill­ing sea­sonal jobs will al­ways be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially when the fish­ing, agri­cul­ture and tourism in­dus­tries are all look­ing for peo­ple at the same time.


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