Province an­nounces $5.5 mil­lion to as­sist fish plant work­ers

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY DIANE CROCKER

CORNER BROOK, NL – Fish plant work­ers in com­mu­ni­ties across the province will have the op­por­tu­nity to earn needed in­sur­able hours through short­term em­ploy­ment the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is fund­ing to the tune of $5.5 mil­lion.

Premier Dwight Ball was flanked by Fish­eries and Land Re­sources Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne and Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ed­die Joyce at the Sir Richard Squires Build­ing in Corner Brook on Mon­day as he an­nounced the fund­ing, which comes as a re­sult of the em­ploy­ment chal­lenges faced by pro­cess­ing plant work­ers due to de­clines in shell­fish re­sources and se­vere sea ice con­di­tions.

The money will be ad­min­is­tered by Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and won’t be a direct hand­out to plant work­ers.

In­stead, the province will be reach­ing out to im­pacted com­pa­nies, com­mu­ni­ties, and res­i­dents to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on avail­able sup­ports and de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­ity for as­sis­tance. The re­sult will be a se­ries of projects un­der­taken that af­fected plant work­ers will be hired to work on.

In the past there’s been crit­i­cism of such pro­grams as be­ing “make-work projects.”

Byrne said there will al­ways be a cer­tain level of crit­i­cism or cyn­i­cism when­ever em­ploy­ment sup­ports are pro­vided.

“The fact is, th­ese em­ploy­ment pro­grams do sup­port sig­nif­i­cant valu­able com­mu­nity-based projects that as­sist the econ­omy of the re­gion, that as­sists the over­all well-be­ing, the qual­ity of life in com­mu­ni­ties and the eco­nomic ca­pac­ity of com­mu­ni­ties to be able to gen­er­ate new jobs and new op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Byrne added the province also has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to be com­pas­sion­ate as it is deal­ing with a group of work­ers, who – through no fault of their own – face an eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment cir­cum­stance that put their liveli­hoods and abil­ity to make a liv­ing, and the abil­ity of their com­mu­ni­ties to be pros­per­ous, in jeop­ardy.

Shrimp and crab quo­tas have been re­duced, re­sult­ing in less work in the plants them­selves.

He said the province will make good use of the re­sources to make sure great projects are done, that peo­ple have ac­cess to em­ploy­ment, that em­ploy­ment will pro­duce rev­enue for them and their fam­i­lies, and their com­mu­ni­ties will then be sus­tain­able.

A suite of sup­ports is also avail­able un­der the In­te­grated Tran­si­tion Frame­work for Dis­placed Plant Work­ers. This multi-de­part­men­tal pro­gram ex­ists to re­spond to com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­u­als im­pacted by fish plant clo­sures. It pro­vides tran­si­tional em­ploy­ment as­sis­tance and of­fers par­tic­i­pants ac­cess to tran­si­tional coun­selling ser­vices to bet­ter pre­pare for fu­ture em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

©DIANE CROCKER/THE WEST­ERN STAR

Premier Dwight Ball, left, Fish­eries and Land Re­sources Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne, and Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ed­die Joyce are pic­tured dur­ing an an­nounce­ment of $5.5 mil­lion in pro­vin­cial fund­ing to as­sist fish plant work­ers.

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