N.L. an­nounces $5.5 mil­lion to help plant work­ers

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY DIANE CROCKER SALTWIRE NET­WORK CORNER BROOK, NL The Telegram

Fish plant work­ers in com­mu­ni­ties across the province will have the op­por­tu­nity to earn needed in­sur­able hours through short-term em­ploy­ment that 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 Aug. 21 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 reach 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, is that th­ese em­ploy­ment pro­grams do sup­port sig­nif­i­cant valu­able com­mu­ni­ty­based 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 said 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, have faced an eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment cir­cum­stance which put their liveli­hoods in jeop­ardy. Shrimp and crab quo­tas have been re­duced, re­sult­ing in less work in the plant.

He said the province will make good use of the re­sources to make sure great projects are done, 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 is de­signed to re­spond to com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­u­als im­pacted by fish plant clo­sures, pro­vid­ing tran­si­tional em­ploy­ment as­sis­tance and coun­selling ser­vices to bet­ter pre­pare for fu­ture em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

DIANE CROCKER/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Fish­eries Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne (cen­tre) an­nounces $5.5 mil­lion in pro­vin­cial fund­ing to as­sist fish plant work­ers as Premier Dwight Ball (left) and Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ed­diy Joyce (right) lis­ten in Corner Brook Aug. 21.

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