Calvin Tobin’s fam­ily gets par­tial in­sur­ance set­tle­ment

Un­paid union dues meant loss of ben­e­fits after young fish­er­man’s death

The Pilot - - News - BY JONATHAN PAR­SONS jonathan.par­sons@thep­ Twitter: @je­j­par­sons

After some wran­gling, and go­ing pub­lic, the fam­ily of a South­ern Har­bour fish­er­man who was killed in a tragic car ac­ci­dent near Clarenville this month, has se­cured half of his $30,000 death ben­e­fit.

The fam­ily of Calvin Tobin went pub­lic last week, frus­trated after be­ing told that Tobin would not be en­ti­tled to death ben­e­fits be­cause he was be­hind on his union dues to the Fish Food and Al­lied Work­ers (FFAW).

“Is it not enough of a dev­as­tat­ing blow to the fam­ily that we lost our grand­son and our nephew, that we got to fight now for money that should be his,” Tobin’s aunt, Carol Ann Brewer, told The Packet on Thurs­day.

The 25 year- old South­ern Har­bour fish­er­man was killed in a car ac­ci­dent on Aug. 1.

Tobin was a mem­ber of the Fish Food and Al­lied Work­ers (FFAW) union.

How­ever, when the fam­ily re­quested his in­sur­ance ben­e­fits fol­low­ing his death, they were de­nied be­cause Tobin had not had his union dues up to date as of July 31.

Brewer says her hus­band, Richard, was the first per­son to con­tact FFAW-Uni­for about Tobin’s death ben­e­fits. They were ini­tially told they weren’t en­ti­tled to Tobin’s $ 30,000 death ben­e­fit pol­icy be­cause of out­stand­ing dues.

She says Tobin was paid up and in good stand­ing re­gard­ing union dues up un­til July 31, 2017. Twice this sea­son, she said, he paid $25 to the FFAW.

An­nual dues for a fisher are $180.

She adds, since they sold to a dif­fer­ent fish plant this year, they didn’t re­ceive any­thing from the union ex­plain­ing to take out the full amount of any dues owed from the pre­vi­ous year.

“Any ar­rears ow­ing for the first sell of the year in your name, it all has to come out,” said Brewer. “And this year that wasn’t hap­pen­ing.”

So while he was up-to-date with this his union dues for 2017, dues ow­ing for 2016 were not de­ducted from his cheque.

After sort­ing out the con­fu­sion, Tobin was in the process of pay­ing the dues when he was killed, says Brewer.

After the fam­ily went to the me­dia with the story early in the week, they met with FFAW rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Fri­day.

It turns out — thanks to a grace pe­riod from Sun­life, the in­sur­ance provider for FFAW mem­bers — they are en­ti­tled to $15,000.

Ac­cord­ing to a post by FISHNL on Face­book, after the meet­ing, the fam­ily are in­el­i­gi­ble for the re­main­ing $15,000 on the pol­icy, of­fered by a dif­fer­ent car­rier — In­dus­trial Al­liance.

How­ever, the fam­ily may be el­i­gi­ble for $5,000 for the funeral costs from In­dus­trial Al­liance, ac­cord­ing to FISH-NL.

The FFAW is­sued a writ­ten state­ment to The Packet on Fri­day.

Pres­i­dent Keith Sul­li­van ex­pressed his con­do­lences to Tobin’s fam­ily and said they are do­ing “ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble” to help in the sit­u­a­tion.

“FFAW re­mits the in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums on be­half of mem­bers to Sun­life,” ex­plained Sul­li­van in the state­ment. “Like any other in­sur­ance plan, the rules of cov­er­age are set by Sun­life.”

He says this plan cov­ers mem­bers in good stand­ing, from Aug. 1 of one year, to July 31 of the next — based on pay­ments from the pre­vi­ous year.

Re­fer­ring to the change of buyer from one year to the next, Sul­li­van says the no­tice of ar­rears is sent to the pre­vi­ous buyer and di­rectly to the mem­ber.

“Mem­bers have five months after re­ceiv­ing no­tice of ar­rears to pro­vide pay­ment for those ar­rears. The new buyer will only deduct dues for the cur­rent year, so it is up to the in­di­vid­ual to pay any ar­rears if they switch buy­ers,” said Sul­li­van.

How­ever, Brewer is still not pleased with FFAW and won­ders why they weren’t ini­tially in­formed of the grace pe­riod.

“Why isn’t it that FFAW doesn’t have a pocket of money for any fish­er­man in ar­rears … pay off the in­sur­ance com­pany, and when the fish­er­men pay their dues, put it back in the pot?”

Brewer says she won­ders how many other fish­er­men might be in the same sit­u­a­tion with­out re­al­iz­ing it.

Calvin Tobin was laid to rest in his home­town of South­ern Har­bour ear­lier this week.

Brewer told The Packet he had been a fish­er­man since he was 15 years old and he “loved it on the water.

“He fished with al­most every boat in South­ern Har­bour … He knew peo­ple from Port Aux Basques to St. Lawrence and all peo­ple in be­tween.”

She calls Tobin’s death, “a dev­as­tat­ing blow to the fam­ily.”

“He was the heart of our fam­ily,” she says. “And now he’s gone.”


Calvin Tobin passed away after a car ac­ci­dent ear­lier this month. His fam­ily have been fight­ing to en­sure they will re­ceive death ben­e­fits this past week.


Tobin was a 25-year-old fish­er­man from South­ern Har­bour.

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